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America’s Best Racing/Image courtesy of Eclipse SportsWire

The 2011 3-year-old champ is back!

Animal Kingdom, progressing steadily in his return from a stress fracture, will target the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) for his first start since mid-February.

Should the 4-year-old son of Leroidesanimaux (Brz) prevail in the one-mile turf race on November 3 at Santa Anita Park, he would become the first Kentucky Derby (G1) winner to win a Breeders’ Cup race since Unbridled completed a Derby-Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) double in 1990.

Animal Kingdom won convincingly on the turf on February 18 at Gulfstream Park in his only previous start this year. That victory came following an extended break while recovering from a hairline fracture to his left hind leg sustained in the 2011 Belmont Stakes (G1).

After his 2012 debut win, Animal Kingdom developed a stress fracture of the ilium that knocked him out of the $6-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1). According to a release from owner Team Valor International, that injury did not require surgery and healed with 30 days of stall rest. Animal Kingdom resumed training in June and began breezing on August 21.

With no setbacks in training and his conditioning progressing at a rate that would have him ready to race in the Breeders’ Cup, trainer Graham Motion Team Valor chief executive officer Barry Irwin agreed to target the Breeders’ Cup Mile. 

“Coming off the layoff, the Mile just seems very logical for him,” said Motion, who captured the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) in 2004 with Better Talk Now and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) with Shared Account in 2010. “He certainly has the turn of foot to handle it. The timing is right for his schedule coming back, and the caliber of horse that he is, you’re not going to look for a nice, easy spot.

“It’s a totally different situation than last winter when we ran him in the Gulfstream allowance to get ready for the Dubai World Cup. Going a mile, we feel he should be very fit for this race, and he deserves the opportunity.”

Tuesday morning Animal Kingdom breezed five furlongs in company with Badleroibrown on the turf course across the street from Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland. The official time was :50.20 for the four furlongs.

Animal Kingdom is a Team Valor homebred whose sire, Leroidesanimaux, was the champion turf male of 2005 and runner-up in that year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile at Belmont Park.

Last year, Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby and finished second in the Preakness Stakes (G1) on dirt and prevailed in Turfway Park’s Spiral Stakes (G3) on the synthetic Polytrack surface.

Animal Kingdom

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