Arrowfield Stud and Team Valor's Animal Kingdom worked five furlongs in 1:02 in Lambourn, England, June 5 on the uphill Polytrack gallop known as "The Long," in preparation for the June 18 Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) at Royal Ascot.
"When I eyeballed Animal Kingdom, I could tell that the little pot belly he had acquired during the time between the (Dubai) World Cup (UAE-I) and his workout last week at Ascot had disappeared, which is a testament to his fitness," said Barry Irwin, CEO of Team Valor, which also bred the son of Leroidesanimaux. "Frankly, I was a little surprised he tightened right back up in so short a span of time."
Irwin added that Animal Kingdom is relaxed in his new surroundings and has become accustomed to a routine. He works with a horse supplied by Sheikh Mohammed's jump trainer and bloodstock advisor John Ferguson.
On June 5, Animal Kingdom jogged up the hill with an exercise rider and, when he reached the summit, jockey Ted Durcan replaced the exercise rider, jogging the horse back down the gradient to the position where the work would commence.
"Animal Kingdom went five-eighths up the same hill he has been working on," Irwin explained in a release. "Although not on site for this work, trainer Graham Motion gave the instructions for the breeze, asking Durcan this time to break off a few lengths behind the workmate so Animal Kingdom would have to work a little harder, as he has a tendency to pull himself up when he reaches his company.
"Once Animal Kingdom put away his company, he idled a bit, but the rider let him know his work was not yet done, and he responded with a surge that garnered a look of approval and awe from David Lanigan, who has been housing him at Lambourn."
"You don't see horses handle that incline around here like that," Lanigan told Irwin. "When I heard what the plans were after the World Cup to bring him here and run at Royal Ascot I was very skeptical, because it is a very difficult proposition. But having seen how this horse handled it tells me he is a very special animal. He does everything like a real champion. This move today—he upped his game once again. That move at Ascot really woke him up."
Bred in Kentucky, Animal Kingdom is out of the Acatenango mare Dalicia. The 5-year-old horse, who holds an overall record of 5-5-0 from 11 starts and earnings of $8,387,500, scored his biggest victories in the 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the March 30 Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline.