Animal Kingdom eyes road to Dubai
Gulfstream Park has always been fertile ground on which to prepare a horse for a long trip to Dubai in successful pursuit of great reward in the tiny, petro-rich nation that offers the largest purse for a horse race anywhere on the planet. Cigar, Roses in May and Invasor traveled this route to the United Arab Emirates and the prize, now $10-million, that awaits the horse successful in the dessert.After an impressive return to competition in an otherwise nondescript scrimmage last weekend at Gulfstream, Animal Kingdom, winner at age three of the Kentucky Derby but absent from the public eye since early last June, appears poised and ready for the Dubai World Cup. While winning the fifth race on a Saturday at Gulfstream is unlikely to make the Animal Kingdom career highlight reel -- though it did make ESPN's Top 10 plays of the day to the delight of trainer Graham Motion -- it was nevertheless important. It has been a very long time since a Derby winner returned at age four and mounted a meaningful campaign, and in a year in which the reigning Horse of the Year, Havre de Grace, remains in training, Animal Kingdom's success bodes well for the season at hand. Not since Giacomo, the longshot Derby winner of 2005, has a winner of America's race managed even a single victory in the following season. Animal Kingdom with this victory has interrupted a negative trend and awakened the interest of those who saw him last spring as a potential, if ultimately unproven, dominant 3-year-old.
It has been a very long time since a Derby winner returned at age four and mounted a meaningful campaign