Animal Kingdom at Fair Hill.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Animal Kingdom at Fair Hill.
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Chad Harmon

Animal Kingdom in Good Company at Fair Hill

Animal Kingdom galloped 1 1/2 miles at Fair Hill Training Center May 17.

Team Valor International’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom  galloped 1 1/2 miles over the synthetic Tapeta surface at Fair Hill Training Center near Elkton, Md. the morning of May 17.

As he did May 15 when rain left the dirt track muddy, trainer Graham Motion opted to train Animal Kingdom on the synthetic surface, which features consistent drainage.

“It was a little wet,” Motion said in a release. “We had rain on and off all morning.”

When Animal Kingdom is on the track to jog and then gallop he is accompanied by a stable pony ridden by one of Motion’s assistants.

“He does go out with the pony, more as a precaution than necessity,” Motion said. “We like to keep him in company. We try to keep everything as natural as it would be, even though we’re having a special kind of training after the break. There are benefits of having horses around him.”

Animal Kingdom goes out with a set of Motion’s horses--between eight and 10-- for his morning exercise in the days leading up to the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Motion said the son of Leroidesanimaux will gallop up to the race and will not have a timed workout.

“He’s galloping fairly strong anyway,” Motion said. “He always finishes up his gallop pretty strong. Maybe on Thursday or Friday we might let him finish up a little bit more, but nothing really out of the ordinary.”

Motion had considered shipping the 60 miles from Fair Hill to Pimlico May 20, but now says he is 90% sure the colt will make the trip the morning of May 21, several hours before the race.

“I don’t see any reason to do it any differently; that’s the way I’m leaning,” Motion said. “I just don’t see why I need to change his world on Friday. He’s here, he’s happy, and I just don’t see the benefit to getting him over there the day before.”