Trainer Graham Motion and Barry Irwin's Team Valor International - the team behind 2013 Dubai World Cup and 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom - will soon part ways, according to a statement released today by the racing syndicate.
Team Valor horses will remain in Motion's care through April, with private trainer Rick Mettee taking over May 1. Mettee, a longtime assistant/trainer with Godolphin Racing, will move into the Team Valor barn at Fair Hill Training Center, where Motion will maintain his public stable in his Herringswell Stables barn. As part of the agreement, Motion will continue to train Animal Kingdom through his planned start at England's Royal Ascot meeting in June.
"We have enjoyed the association and are immensely grateful for the opportunities given by Barry and the partners at Team Valor International," Motion said Friday. "At this point I feel that Team Valor is best served by a private trainer situation and this is not something I am prepared to do. I am extremely proud of the job my team has done over the past two years and nothing will diminish the memories I have of standing before the huge crowds at Churchill Downs and Meydan with my family."
Team Valor sent horses to Motion in the fall of 2010 and consolidated its United States runners with the Maryland-based trainer in 2011. The Kentucky-based company bought a barn at Fair Hill to facilitate the change. In May 2011, Motion and Team Valor won the Kentucky Derby together with Animal Kingdom, who had begun his career with trainer Wayne Catalano. The chestnut colt went on to finish second in the Preakness that season and was second to Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Mile last fall. This year, Animal Kingdom shined on the world's stage - taking the $10 million Dubai World Cup March 30 at Meydan Race Course after finishing second to Point Of Entry in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February.
Grade 1 successes for the stable and Motion also came with Gypsy's Warning and Summer Soiree, with stakes wins by Daveron, State Of Play, Went The Day Well, Crimson China and others.
Motion will continue to train his public stable, based at Fair Hill and Keeneland.
"This was always set up to be a separate part of our operation for the benefit of everyone," he said of the Team Valor relationship. "I'm proud of what we did together and the success we had. It's been an amazing two years."