In addition to being one of the more astute horsemen on the backstretch, trainer Graham Motion is refreshingly honest.
So after Animal Kingdom's rain-soaked workout at Keeneland Saturday morning, Motion and owner Barry Irwin of Team Valor International didn't equivocate. Five furlongs in 1:022⁄5 wasn't what they wanted in the colt's penultimate breeze before the Kentucky Derby.
Animal Kingdom was working in company with stablemate Meistersinger, a horse who had not worked over a synthetic surface before. So instead of pushing the Vinery Spiral Stakes winner, Meistersinger struggled over the surface, and the two clocked in at a slower time than was intended.
"Unfortunately, my rider ended up waiting for (Meistersinger) and finally said enough's enough and went on," Motion said. "It wasn't exactly what I was looking for but, having said that, he probably got something out of it."
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Added Irwin, "This is the work you want to be the big one. But he got a ton out of the last one. Not that that makes up for this but, in his last one, he went a mile in probably 1:38 galloping out."
Jockey Robby Albarado is slated to be aboard Animal Kingdom for his final work at Churchill Downs. Albarado rode Animal Kingdom when he broke his maiden at Keeneland last October and is the likely candidate to be aboard the colt should he go on to the Kentucky Derby.
Florida Derby runner-up Shackleford breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.20 at Churchill Downs Saturday, covering the distance more than two seconds faster than the second-best work.
Shackleford is doing well since his return to Churchill, but he is 22nd on the graded-stakes earnings list with $212,000, leaving him in need of help if he is to make it into the 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby.