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Gulfstream Turf Handicap Likely Animal Kingdom’s last U.S. Start
Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner, is on schedule for a start in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) on Feb. 9. The 1 1/8-mile stakes will likely mark the final race in the U.S. for the Graham Motion-trained 5-year-old.
“Everything is going well. Next week, he’ll have a breeze, and we’re on track for the Turf Handicap. That’s the plan still,” Motion said. “We have a schedule, and I hope we can keep it. If he runs well in Dubai, we might take him to England and run him over there. Most likely he’ll have three races.”
Following his start at Gulfstream, the son of Leroidesanimaux is scheduled to run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) on March 31 before completing his racing career with a possible start at Royal Ascot.
Team Valor International recently sold a majority interest in his breeding rights to Arrowfield Stud in Australia. Animal Kingdom is scheduled to start his stallion career in September for the Southern Hemisphere breeding season.
Animal Kingdom has run twice over the Gulfstream Park turf course, finishing a troubled second in an allowance two starts before winning the Derby and capturing an allowance by two lengths last winter. A stress fracture in his left hind leg was subsequently discovered, putting him on the shelf for eight months. Animal Kingdom returned to action without a prep in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile, in which he was hampered by traffic before making a strong surge to finish second behind Horse of the Year candidate Wise Dan last November.
Motion said he’s not feeling any anxiety about Animal Kingdom’s upcoming 2013 debut.
“I think I opened myself up to that before the Breeders’ Cup,” Motion said with a chuckle. “I don’t think I could be any more anxious than I was about what we did there. That was out of the box to do what we did. We almost pulled it off.”
While Animal Kingdom’s career may be heating up as it’s winding down, Motion can look forward to a 2013 season full of excitement with Tuttipaesi, who captured her U.S. debut in the $75,000 Ginger Brew Stakes at Gulfstream on New Year’s Day. The Irish-bred 3-year-old filly closed from far back to win going away by two lengths in the 1 1/16-mile turf stakes.
“You’re always surprised when a horse wins like that, but I did expect her to run well,” Motion said. "When she came over she was a nervous filly, but she seems to have really settled down to the routine here. Maybe the American-style of training suits her.”
Motion said Tuttipaesi would likely start next in the $150,000 Herecomesthebride (G3) at Gulfstream Park on March 2.
The Motion-trained Lucky Chappy, who finished third in the Hollywood Derby (G1) on Nov. 25, is being pointed toward the $150,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) on turf at Gulfstream on Feb. 16.
“He’s grown up and is doing well physically and mentally,” Motion said. “He’s just unlucky he hasn’t won a race over here.”
Lucky Chappy has been stakes-placed six times, including a runner-up finish in the Kitten’s Joy at Gulfstream last year, since being imported from Italy, where he won two of three starts.