Animal Kingdom Arrives Palm Meadows
By Ed Gray
Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, arrived at Palm Meadows Training Center Wednesday morning, along with Toby’s Corner, the 2011 Wood Memorial winner.
Trainer Graham Motion had been training the two major-stakes winning 4-year-olds at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, where the unseasonably warm and snow-free weather allowed him to keep them close to home for longer than anticipated.
“It looked like it was going to be a nasty week,” said Motion from his Fair Hill base. “I thought we would be better off to get them down there and not have to worry about it.”
Motion will no longer have the luxury of daily contact with Animal Kingdom but had absolutely no qualms about sending his Derby winner to Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Boynton Beach.
“He won the Kentucky Derby last year and I didn’t have (daily contact),” Motion said. “(Assistant trainer) David Rock was with him from this time last year all the way through the Triple Crown, so he knows him very well.”
The major goal for Animal Kingdom, who finished second in a turf allowance at Gulfstream last March, is the Dubai World Cup on March 24. The Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 11 is a strong possibility for his 2012 return.
Motion has been impressed with Animal Kingdom since he returned to training.
“I think physically, he’s a bigger, stronger animal that he was last year,” said Motion, whose stable star hasn’t run his being injured in the Belmont Stakes in June.
Toby’s Corner is unraced since winning the Wood Memorial in April due to a hind leg injury.
“He’s on the same schedule as Animal Kingdom, or maybe a little ahead of him,” Motion said.
Dullahan’s Schedule Set on Road to Kentucky Derby
Although strongly disappointed by the injury that has forced O’Prado Again out of training, trainer Dale Romans and Donegal Racing’s Jerry Crawford are still looking forward to participating in the spring classics.
Dullahan, who finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs last time out, is being pointed to the Kentucky Derby with a two-prep schedule. Romans has slated the Palm Beach (G3), a 1 1/8-mile turf stakes on March 11, for the son of Even The Score’s 2012 debut. The Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland is scheduled as Dullahan’s final Derby prep. The Roman had set the same schedule for Paddy O’Prado, who won the Palm Beach and finished second in the Blue Grass before coming in third in the 2010 Kentucky Derby.
“We know he likes the grass. (The Palm Beach) is a mile-and-an-eighth race, and I want him to go at least a mile-and-an-eighth,” said Romans, whose colt captured the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland prior to his solid Juvenile effort. “And he ran well at Keeneland, so the timing’s right for both races. I wanted to run him twice before the Derby.”
Romans reported that O’Prado Again, who captured the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct in his 2011 finale, suffered a fracture in his right front leg and will be sent to Peterson & Smith Equine Clinic in Ocala, where a screw will be inserted to repair the fracture.
“He’s not bad. He’ll be back,” he said.
Meanwhile, Romans has other promising 3-year-olds, including Cozzetti and Kings Kid.
Cozzetti, who is slated to run in the $100,000 Kitten’s Joy on Jan. 21, broke his maiden impressively at Churchill Downs in his third lifetime start before finishing eighth in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park last month.
“I thought he would win out there, but he didn’t. I don’t know if he chased that pace a little too close or what,” Romans said. “But he’s training good here now.”
King Kid recently finished third in the Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1 after debuting with a sharp victory at Churchill Downs in late November. Romans’ high regard for the son of Lemon Drop Kid was not diminished by his effort in the Gulfstream Derby.
“It was second start. It’s a tough thing to do for your second start in your life.”