It is looking more likely that 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom will return to the races this fall, but where and when is something his owner isn’t ready to reveal just yet.
On Tuesday, Animal Kingdom had his fifth workout since returning to training following a fractured pelvis suffered in March. He breezed four furlongs in 49 seconds on the turf at Fair Hill, working in company with the multiple graded stakes-winning turf horse Smart Bid, who is entered in Saturday’s $100,000 Alphabet Soup Handicap at Parx Racing.
According to Barry Irwin, head of the Team Valor International syndicate that owns the horse, Animal Kingdom is “doing great and is ahead of schedule” in his training. However, Irwin said he wanted Animal Kingdom to get a few more breezes in before he states where the horse would return.
“We got a race in mind for him, but we don’t want to reveal it because if we do and we don’t make it, we’re going to have to read all about it and hear all about it,” Irwin said. “After the horse has breezed five-eighths a couple of times and it looks like he’s going to make it, then we’ll come out with the race were pointing for.”
All options would seem to be open for Animal Kingdom as he has won twice on synthetic and once each on dirt and turf.
Appearing to throw cold water on those who would like to see Animal Kingdom run in a Breeders’ Cup race, Irwin said the race he’s considering “is not one many would be thinking about.”
Animal Kingdom, sidelined with a hock fracture following the 2011 Belmont Stakes, returned to win a turf allowance race in February at Gulfstream Park. In subsequent training for a start in the $10 Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March, Animal Kingdom was found to have a fractured pelvis.
He resumed training in early summer and has had five workouts – four on dirt – since Aug. 21.
Irwin, who said he has had offers from two Japanese and one England-based stallion farm, indicated he would like to run Animal Kingdom as a 5-year-old.