Graham Motion, the trainer of Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom, decided after walking the course at Ascot this week that the Royal meeting’s opening race over a mile will be the Kentucky-bred’s target in his career finale on June 18.
“We had discussed the possibility of either the Queen Anne Stakes or the Prince of Wales’s Stakes,” said Motion, a native of Cambridge, England. “But after walking the course, I feel the mile in the Queen Anne will afford our horse plenty of ground. We had only considered the other race because it is run over the same mile-and-a-quarter distance as the Kentucky Derby and World Cup.
“The owners (Arrowfield Stud, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum and Team Valor International) prefer a credential for the horse at a mile and I think the uphill nature of the Ascot course will be a stiff enough test to allow his stamina to come into play.
“The mile at Ascot is closer to a mile-and-an-eighth race in America because of the layout and if Animal Kingdom were racing in America at this time, we probably would be running him over that distance. The Queen Anne also fits nicely into my training schedule for Animal Kingdom since we freshened him up after his trip to Dubai.
Animal Kingdom, first or second in all of his races save the Belmont Stakes in which he nearly fell at the start, has won both of his outings over a mile and a quarter. At a mile, he finished second by a length and a half behind Wise Dan in the Breeders’ Cup Mile in his first start in eight months. His furious closing charge in the Breeders’ Cup was an eye-opener to many and few that witnessed it would deny that the horse can display the full range of his brilliance over the shorter trip.
The Queen Anne has been a venue for brilliance, with Goldikova, Canford Cliffs and Frankel winning the last 3 editions.