He arrived at Belmont on Sunday at 7:30 AM. He is said to be a very cool, laid back horse, and is looking great, according to David Rock, assistant trainer.
He had his final workout Monday, going 4 furlongs in 47.76, which was the fastest of 32 horses that worked at this distance. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.60.
Jockey John Velasquez said that he was going very easily and did it all on his own, galloping out without being asked, and that he actually had trouble pulling him up
Some horses undergo physical changes throughout the Triple Crown, but not Animal Kingdom, he looks as good as he ever did and seems to have a lot of energy.
More importantly, Velasquez reported that he liked the track.
Why did he go off as such a long shot in the Derby?
It is easy to say now, but Animal Kingdom was one that we should have been looking at more closely in the Derby. I liked most of the main contenders, including Dialed In and Nehro, but I felt in the back of my mind that Animal Kingdom was the X factor.
He wasn’t proven on dirt, but he had done no wrong, so what was the problem with him? Nothing, except people like to see horses prove themselves over the right surface. In 2000, European champion Giant’s Causeway came over to the U.S. to compete in the Breeder’s Cup Classic, having won five straight Group 1 (equivalent to our Grade 1) races, and arguably had the best credentials of the entire field, but he still went off at a generous 9-1, because he was sort of an unknown quantity.
It was clear that Animal Kingdom had plenty of talent, we just didn’t know if he could run on the natural dirt surface, and that is probably what scared people from backing him, and whose hesitancy allowed him to go off at 21-1. The fact is his speed figures were pretty close to those of favorites such as Dialed In and Mucho Macho Man.
When Shackleford and Animal Kingdom face off in the Belmont Stakes, it will be the 22nd time in history that the Derby and Preakness winners have faced each other in the Test of Champions. Only 11 horses have completed the Derby /Belmont double, and Animal Kingdom will be bidding to become the twelfth. Past horses to accomplish this feat are: Thunder Gulch, Swale, Bold Forbes, Riva Ridge, Chateaugay, Needles, Middleground, Shut Out, Johnstown, Twenty Grand, and Zev.
The Derby winner and Preakness runner up was bred by Denali Stud and sold at the Keeneland September Yearling sale for $ 100,000. He has now amassed career earnings of $ 1,938,700.
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