With all the hoopla surrounding the holiday weekend (Christmas and Santa Anita opening on Monday), it might have been overlooked by some that there was a very important workout conducted on Saturday morning at Fair Hill in Maryland.
The 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, had his first workout since suffering his unfortunate injury in the Belmont Stakes in June. The Derby winner covered three furlongs, working in company, in 38 seconds flat. Trainer Graham Motion was quoted as saying the workout was conducted in company to keep the horse's mind of his business.
It would appear that the immediate and ultimate goal for Animal Kingdom on his comeback will be the $10,000,000 Dubai World Cup, conducted over the Tapeta at Meydan Race Course in March. Motion did say that the most likely American prep race for that trip would be the Gulfstream Park Handicap on February 11. However, if the horse was not fit in time for that race, Motion also said it was likely they could fit a prep race in over in Dubai.
Dubai would certainly be an interesting spot for Animal Kingdom since, if you recall, one of the knocks against him before his Derby win was his lack of any dirt racing. He had been a synthetic specialist, it seemed, before the First Saturday In May. His win in the Derby would be what is known as debunking a myth. The return to racing on a synthetic surface could be just what the doctor ordered for what might be a compelling comeback story in 2012.
Tune in again on Thursday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!