**Now updated with link to helmet cam video courtesy of Cosequin – see below**
“That’s more nerve-wracking than watching a race.”
And so trainer Graham Motion summed up the coordination needed to organize another turf workout for Breeders’ Cup Mile hopeful Animal Kingdom Wednesday morning at Fair Hill. The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner went to the Fair Hill Races turf course, host of annual steeplechase races since 1934, with two stablemates and put in a solid exercise over a yielding (my description) course.
With Animal Kingdom well behind, the trio jogged off from the quarter pole and picked up a gallop on the backside. After a couple of false starts by one of the companions, they galloped once around and accelerated into the second trip down the backside. Still well behind the others, Animal Kingdom closed steadily, swung wide around the turn and reeled them in to gallop past in the final 10 strides. Motion clocked the work in 1:18 for 6 furlongs with the final half-mile in 52 seconds. A long gallop out around to the backside finished off more than 2 miles of exercise.
Known for tight turns, long straights and a steady climb from the backside to the finish line, Fair Hill’s race course (across Route 273 from the Fair Hill Training Center) rarely produces fast times – especially when wet – but will surely help a horse’s fitness level, give him a change of scenery and a rare chance to work on the grass. Animal Kingdom looked strong early and fluid late, letting his long strides do the work through the stretch.
“He’s been going a half in 49 here, but this is a little bit different given how soft it is,” said Motion. “I wanted him to get something out of it and it looks like he did.”
Owned by Team Valor International, Animal Kingdom has not run since winning an optional claimer on the turf at Gulfstream Park in February, and carries a lifetime mark of four wins in eight starts – including scores in the Derby and Spiral Stakes last year.
***Animal Kingdom strides through the stretch in his workout at Fair Hill Wednesday. Photo by Maggie Kimmitt.