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:

Workout(s):
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.)

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About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on March 28, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Is it possible AK does a lot of work at Fair Hill that is not public knowledge

    • Not possible, in my experience. They have the facilities to do more advanced stuff, but I don’t picture him doing any sub 2min miles like I’ll Have Another. BUT, they do have Tapeta there – even though Animal Kingdom was based down in FL the past several months.

  2. Good call!!!

  3. Brian Engelking

    Bill, your handicapping is improving…

  4. Bill–terrific re: Animal Kingdom!

    This is not quite on subject, but another data point for old-time works.

    “Two days before Majestic Prince’s Kentucky Derby, Longden worked the colt five furlongs in an obscenely quick 58 3/5 seconds, which prompted the naysayers to dismiss the horse. But Longden wasn’t concerned. ‘I know what to do with Majestic Prince,’ he said at the time. ‘When I get on him, I know how he is.’

    –From a DRF article on jockeys becoming trainers. Johnny Longden is the star here, winning the Triple Crown riding Count Fleet in 1943 and, 26 years later, almost winning it again training Majestic Prince in 1969.
    http://www.drf.com/news/switching-gears-jockeys-turned-trainers-face-tough-transition

    ah… researching as I go…
    Of course the Elliott Burch-trained Arts & Letters lost the Derby by a neck and Preakness by a head to Majestic Prince, didn’t get injured, and then won the Met Mile (“we needed a mile workout, why not win some money?”) before taking the Belmont, Travers, Woodward, and Jockey Club Gold Cup, just as Burch did with Sword Dancer 10 yrs earlier.
    But I can’t find any statistics on Arts & Letters’ workouts during this campaign.
    Arts was only 15.2 hands tall when he won the Belmont, and “when he is asked for the supreme effort he appears to scramble madly”–unlike Majestic Prince’s heroic stride.

    In contrast to Arts & Letters’ Derby-Preakness-MetMile-Belmont schedule, the Lucien Lauren-trained Dike, 3rd in the Derby, “freshened up” by skipping the Preakness and finished a much more remote 3rd in the Belmont (and without Majestic Prince there, a remote 2nd in the Travers).

  5. ps. I found a pre-Derby training diary from Elliott Burch for Key to the Mint:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1085994/index/index.htm

    Overall, he seems to do his father’s style of training with speed every 3-4 days, usually at less than a mile.

    Doing this he won the Belmont 3x in 5 tries (though never the Kentucky Derby or Preakness), the Travers 4x, the Woodward 4x, Champion Turf Horse 4x (3x with Fort Marcy), Horse of the Year 3x, and ended up with 4 Hall of Famers–Sword Dancer, filly champ Bowl of Flowers, Arts & Letters, and Fort Marcy.

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