by Ed Meyer

posted on March 29, 2011 in General Discussion, Horse Racing, Kentucky Derby | 1 Comment >>

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Winning the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes

The synthetic revolution arrived in the middle of the night, and before our eyes, has transformed racing.  Well, maybe not so dramatic, but you get the picture. For all of the good stuff that synthetic ovals have provided for racing, the issue of determining a runner’s ability to compete on the greatest stage, can be daunting.

On Vinery / Spiral day at Turfway Park, I fell in love with a runner by the name of Animal Kingdom. That maiden race at Keeneland going a 1 1/8th was the seller for me. It is rare to see a two-year-old pull this off so sweetly. Lexington has the same track as Turfway, and the distance should not have been a problem. The poly plays different in the two climates. Keeneland was held as a closers paradise until last meet, and it played much more like Turfway’s “stalker just off the lead zone.”  That was until Saturday…..

Animal Kingdon under Alan Garcia for Graham Motion made a 5 wide sweeping move at the 3/8ths pole, and swept right around the leaders. At one time, he looked as if he was making double strides against the rest of the field. All this while breaking 11th from the post. I am really scratching my head as this is not the stuff that poly runners are made of. I am not blinded by picking the winner, and the only problem that faces my handicapping is if that race was the real deal?

Lightly raced, great works, winning at a distance at two-years-old, and demolishing the field. The fractions were a little bit better than average, and that seems to be par for poly track. It doesn’t play as brilliant, and horses seem to skip over the oval.  But, in this rare instance. I feel they may have a little something special.

Owned and bred by Team Valor, and trained by a gent of the race track Graham Motion. If you toss in the rider who went to Keeneland and won the Bluegrass, you may have a winning team. How will this transfer to the main track at Churchill Downs ?  Only the 39 days and counting clock will tell. I think the way he picked up the field like they were tied to the ground gave me confidence. I don’t think he is in the winners circle at this moment, but he surely has that turn of foot. He is a March foal, and could easily be the “baby” in this field.

After this last effort, I think he needs to be taken seriously. Being so far back in the field for a track that has not been kind to deep closers. This was a mover. The kind of race that makes you stand up and take notice. He is 4 starts  / 2-2-0. His $285,000 graded earnings are more than enough to ensure him a spot in the Derby field. Garcia is game to stay aboard, and Motion is ready for the next hurdle. I think in 39 days, we shall see if the poly form can translate to the deep dirt oval of Churchill Downs.