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Animal Kingdom Second in Prep For Dubai World Cup

Animal Kingdom, by Leroidesanimaux (BRZ), finished second to Point of Entry in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (G1) on Saturday in his prep race for the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1) in March.

Leroidesanimaux’s Animal Kingdom

Point of Entry secured a stalking position behind pacesetting Salto, whom he tracked during a relatively slow pace into the backstretch (first half-mile in 50.52 seconds). Animal Kingdom raced a few lengths further back before jockey Joel Rosario made a bold move aboard the 4-5 favorite, sending him inside of Salto to grab the lead leaving the backstretch. Salto fought back around the turn and was joined on the outside by Point of Entry leaving the turn into to the homestretch. Rosario cut the corner aboard Animal Kingdom to hold the lead in early stretch, but he was quickly joined by Point of Entry, who steadily edged away to victory.

“We went to the middle of the track and I know Animal Kingdom well. If he would have waited behind me he probably would have beaten me from the quarter-pole home,” said Velazquez, who rode Animal Kingdom to victory in the 2011 Kentucky Derby. “He made a move so big that he changed his style to my horse’s style, so it worked out to my advantage.”

Trainer Graham Motion expressed surprise at Rosario’s early move aboard Animal Kingdom.

“I thought it was a good run. I think Joel was worried the speed was a little slow, so he moved a little early, which cost us the race,” Motion said. “It gave Point of Entry a chance to follow him. He was beaten by a very good horse under awkward circumstances.”

The Gulfstream Turf was only Animal Kingdom’s third start since a troubled off-the-board finish in the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 11, 2011, after which an injury to his left hind leg was detected. He came off an eight-month layoff to impressively win a turf allowance at Gulfstream last February. The Kentucky-bred 5-year-old returned from the sidelines again and made a strong return in finishing a troubled second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) behind eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan.

Motion said Animal Kingdom didn’t react well to being taken out of his late-running style.

“I think more than anything it caught him off guard for him to find himself in front so early. I think Animal Kingdom was surprised by that,” Motion said. “Somebody who has ridden him and had more confidence in him might have been more patient with him. I think Joel was just anxious with the other riders going slowly and felt they should catch up, which confused the horse a little.”

Both Point of Entry and Animal Kingdom may race next in Dubai on March 30, although in different races. If they do ship to Dubai, Point of Entry would run in the $5 million Sheema Classic, while Animal Kingdom would run in the $10 million World Cup.

Pam DiOrio photo

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