Animal Kingdom: I’m back, where’s Clancy?

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Derby Winner takes control of the keyboard

First of all, who’s Clancy? And where has he been? The last time I saw him was at Pimlico. Gave me a nice pat on the nose and a scratch on my ear before I got on the van home from the Preakness.

At least I think that was him. I was tired, a little grumpy, but the attention was nice. Met his wife and kids too. Nice family. Since then? Nothing. Haven’t seen the guy. So I hijacked his column.

That’s right, this is Animal Kingdom. AK. The big horse. Got it? Hooves aren’t the best things for a keyboard, but I’m managing. Where’s the home row again? I’ve got a pencil in my teeth and one hoof on the trackpad (I took my shoe off). I should probably apologize now for messing up John Panagot’s laptop, but he’ll get over it – not my fault he left it in the tack room. I won the Kentucky Derby. Hey Team Valor, can I get an iPad?

So, let’s get this out of the way first. I lost the Preakness, sorry. Shackleford put on some show up front. Tough to catch. I thought I had him and then I didn’t. Fair play. Nice job. Well done. All that stuff. Hopefully we meet again and we can settle the score – he was behind me in the Derby, right? And how does he do it? I can’t run that fast early in the race, no matter what. It just takes me awhile to get going. Horses are like humans. Some of us sprint, some of us run long distance. Some of us start fast. Some of us start slow. Some of you can sing (only some as far as I can tell), some of you can play baseball. I don’t try to figure it out. You shouldn’t either.

At the Preakness, everybody talked about the Triple Crown. There’s a crown? I’m Animal Kingdom, my father’s name means King of the Animals in French – you think I’d already have a crown. Anyway, I guess I don’t get it now. Damn.

Oh wait, got to shoo a fly. OK, he’s gone (bet you wish you had a tail).

Back to the Preakness. First of all, nobody told me the race was shorter than the Derby. You think they’d tell you that. I ran 1 1/4 miles, 10 furlongs, at Churchill Downs. I thought I was going 10 furlongs at Pimlico, but the Preakness is only 9 1/2 – apparently. Who made that up? And who said it was OK to not tell the horses? We’re not stupid. You could let us know things. Write it on the stall wall, tap it out when you stand at the door, pipe it through the horse van’s sound system, something, anything. It’s just math, we can handle it. Mr. Ed could do multiplication for neighing out loud. You ever try running a race without knowing the distance? Didn’t think so.

No, Thursby you can’t use the computer to watch Sponge Bob on YouTube. Little brothers . . .

So, besides not knowing the distance do you know what else my Preakness Day included? They woke me up early, put me on a truck at 5 in the morning. Five! Humans are nuts. The race was in Baltimore, not Boston. I liked the ride though – great breeze through the windows and that Joy Cooper is one smooth gear-shifter. Once we got to Pimlico, they put me in Stall 40 with a cool yellow webbing with my name on it. Nice touch, guys. They treat you nicely at the Preakness. Great perk. The early start came because of the infield action, traffic and other chaos. You ever been to the Preakness infield? Me neither, but I saw and heard those people. Wow. Wow. That’s all I’ve got to say, wow. I don’t want to say I was distracted, but the horses in the first race said girls were wearing bikinis at 11 in the morning. Yeah, I’m a guy. I didn’t see anything, but I heard all about it. Then the concerts started. Bruno Mars and Train are pretty cool. My assistant trainer Dave Rock kept talking about Puddle Of Mudd. I thought he meant a puddle of mud and got excited about a roll. No such luck. I took a short nap, told Icabad Crane he did OK (third) for an old guy and gave Shared Account a pep talk (she’ll be tough next time).

Then came my time. Rundown bandages like normal, bell boots like normal and a walk to the track – with all the hoopla. King Congie brought an entourage. Cool. Like LeBron. I had Graham, Dave, Adrian, Porfirio, Mathias, John. Keith carried the buckets. Clancy was there, and his brother too. Some NBC guys almost ran into the back of me. That would not have been good. Badda-bing, I could have thumped them all the way to Camden Yards. And then the loons were back – shopping carts on the street next to us, music, hollering, running. Sounded like fun and, hey, they pay the bills right? Graham looked nervous. He picked a rock off the horsepath (he could find a rock in a haystack, something like that). We turned the corner and walked down the stretch. You should have heard it. People calling my name, saying hello to Graham, leaning on the fence, wishing me good luck. I gave them the Look of Eagles. Mom read that C.W. Anderson story to me when I was just a foal and I know how to do it. Got to look good for the people.

Anyway, they put the saddle on me, we had the race, I got beat but gave it a pretty good run. Just didn’t work out. Started a little slowly, didn’t like the dirt smacking me in the face early, got too far behind. Ah well. No excuses, right? As John says, “never out of the exacta.” And as Graham says, “Look at what you did, not what you didn’t do.”

Since the race, I’ve been eating like a horse (sorry) and taking it easy. I met some Team Valor people Saturday for breakfast. That was cool. Apparently, there was a race across the street that afternoon. I heard the noise – like a mini-Preakness in terms of fun and games (lots of bikini tops again). Somebody used the word steeplechase. So it’s like church? My neighbor Gypsy’s Warning said the races had jumps. Really? I could do that. Might be fun. I could add a win over jumps to my resume: dirt, turf, synthetic . . . jump?

Relax, Barry and Graham. Not going to happen. We’re headed to Belmont. A mile-and-a-half, right? Daveron (she’s my cousin I think) told me all about it. New York, big city, bright lights, good pizza. I’m ready. I galloped a mile on the dirt today at Fair Hill – hot and humid – felt good. Got three days off after the Preakness, jogged in the shedrow one day, then jogged on the track for four days and galloped a mile today. We’ll gallop through the week, then ship to Belmont as long as the weather stays good. Got to have a workout on that track, you know? It’s big (once around is 12 furlongs not 8) and sandy so you’ve got to be ready.

Graham says he’s feeding me 18 quarts of feed a day. Wooh! Bring it on. I like to eat. Shackleford just sent me an email about going out for brunch with the boys at the Garden City Hotel. I’m buying. Don’t tell Graham.

Sorry, got to go. I think I hear the feed cart coming. Tell Clancy I said hello. 

Editor’s Note: ST’s Joe Clancy has been busy writing about other horses – and giving Animal Kingdom some peace – since the Preakness. The daily updates start anew today (with a guest columnist) and we’ll keep them going through the Belmont Stakes June 11.

 

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