The Saturday, April 23 work at Keeneland for Team Valor International’s Animal Kingdom in preparation for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) “didn’t go as planned” in the eyes of trainer Graham Motion, as the colt was clocked in 1:02.80 for five furlongs.
“Unfortunately, his workmate (Meistersinger, a maiden winner at Gulfstream Park) struggled (this morning),” Motion said. “My rider (David Nava) waited for him and finally went on with it. I got him for five-eighths around 1:02.”
Clockers caught the two horses through a first quarter-mile in :30 with Animal Kingdom then going :50.40 from the half-mile pole to the wire and then an extra eighth in :12.40.
Motion initially planned to work Animal Kingdom at Churchill Downs on Saturday, but with heavy rain in the forecast elected to remain at Keeneland on the all-weather surface instead of taking a chance on the Churchill track condition, which was sloppy on Saturday.
Overnight rainfall of 1.4 inches and early morning storms forced Keeneland close for training for nearly an hour on Saturday.
“He will ship (to Churchill) on Wednesday or Thursday,” Motion said about Animal Kingdom. “I want him to gallop at least once over the track before working next Saturday.”
Winner of the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) at Turfway Park on March 26 in his most recent start, Animal Kingdom worked five furlongs in :59.20 at Keeneland last Saturday in what Motion described as an “ideal work. It was unfortunate that it didn’t work out today, but he’ll be fine.”
Motion has another Kentucky Derby prospect in Dianne Cotter’s Toby's Corner, winner of the Wood Memorial (gr. I). Currently stabled at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, Toby’s Corner is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Monday, May 2, after a work the previous day.