Thoroedge Flip Flop on Animal Kingdom in Dubai
Blog readers know of my disdain of this Kentucky Derby winner for the following reasons:
-Becoming the first Derby winner to prep on turf and synthetic only sets a bad precedent
-Only 3 starts prior to Derby win does the same
-Trainer Motion, who admirably has never had a medication violation, responding to a question about training 2yo with no remarks about actual physical conditioning, but rather his preference to put them on Lasix at 2 before they ever race as ‘preventative medicine’ – he sounded like a pharmacist
-Multiple injuries and long layoffs since his Derby triumph
But things change: both on my end and on the end of Mr. Animal Kingdom, apparently:
18 Mar 13 Pmm 5F fm 1:01.78b 1/30
11 Mar 13 Pmm 7F fm 1:26.77b 1/1
4 Mar 13 Pmm p 6F fm 1:14.78bd 1/1
In preparing for the $10 million Dubai World Cup this weekend, Graham Motion has appreciably stepped up the training in terms of distance. Plus, AK even worked a fast 3F over the Tapeta this week after the ship to the desert: 3F in :36.24 on Tuesday, March 26th, leading handicapper Pat Cummings to remark:
“While he has looked good in the morning, we are ever so slightly concerned that he may have just done too much work since he got here.”
Now, I’ve gotten burned admiring an increase in work before a big race in the past; mistaking a trainer’s pattern of working longer in preparation for more demanding races as a good sign – when in reality it was a panicky decision on a horse he suddenly realized was ‘short’.
I doubt that is the case here, as AK ran well at 9F last month at GP. I also doubt that AK has been sound enough to breeze 6F and 7F in successive weeks at any point in his career – I recall merely a single 6F effort prior to his Derby triumph.
You won’t find any similar 6-7F works for Royal Delta, for example – as last year’s disappointing World Cup effort was blamed on the ever-present ‘bad trip’. However, Animal Kingdom has not run 2 races so close together since coming up lame after the 3rd jewel of the Triple Crown back at BEL in July 2011.
In conclusion, I have pulled against AK in each of his last several races, but this seemingly beneficial change in conditioning from an ultra-conservative trainer like Motion puts me on his side of the fence for once. (Plus the fact that he runs against Mike de Kock’s 3rd string entry.)