ELKTON, Md. | Animal Kingdom is just chilling at Fair Hill Training Center in northern Maryland, where the Kentucky Derby winner will be until a day before the Preakness.
And according to trainer Graham Motion, the 3-year-old hasn’t dropped off a bit.
“I think he looks very much the same. You’d think, he’s had a long journey from Kentucky and he’s had a tough race – you’d think he’d kinda be tucked up and looking a little more worn,” Motion said Thursday morning. “But he looks great to me; he looks every bit as good as he did going into the Derby, right now.”
Animal Kingdom captured the Derby by 2¾ lengths and shipped to Elkton (where Motion is based) on Tuesday. Thursday was the colt’s second light workout here as he jogged two miles along the dirt track in front of only a handful of on-lookers.
The place is much calmer and less hectic than Pimlico, which at least in part explains Motion’s decision to keep Animal Kingdom at Fair Hill until Friday, May 20. Most other horses will ship into Baltimore Tuesday or Wednesday.
“You wanna try and stress him as little as possible,” Motion said. “For me, probably the closer to get him over there the better. But he’s a pretty cool customer, so not too much fazes him anyway.”
The way Animal Kingdom took to dirt so well at Churchill Downs and has seemingly not missed a beat this week, Motion’s probably right. But the routine of Fair Hill and then Pimlico – where Motion has raced many horses before – should help.
Motion isn’t worried about the sharp turns or anything else at Pimlico. But the timing of another race for Animal Kingdom so quickly could be the X-factor.
“I think it’s a race where you just hope that he’s that good that he can handle the two weeks. That’s the tough part of it. To expect him to improve, I think that would be asking a lot,” Motion said. “But I think he showed he’s a brilliant horse and if he’s as brilliant a horse as I’d like to think he might be, I think he’ll handle it.”