Animal Kingdom adapts as Triple Crown evolves

The drought stretches back to 1978, when Affirmed became the 11th US Triple Crown winner. In the meantime, the thirst for a 12th has become so acute that some have sacrilegiously proposed extending the intervals between the three legs, out of consideration for the modern American thoroughbred – a creature whose genes have been diluted by drugs, and an obsession with speed. Fortunately, the present crop is still measured against the standards set, and met, by its greatest ancestors. So it is, then, a bare fortnight after winning the 137th Kentucky Derby, Animal Kingdom will drop back in distance for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday. And, if successful, he will generate three weeks of hype and hope before undertaking (by local standards) a ruthless test of stamina in the Belmont.

Unless and until he proves equal to the challenge, it would be premature to read too much into his unusual antecedents. Were he to do so, however, perhaps conservatives in the American industry might be moved to look afresh at those turf pedigrees and synthetic tracks they deplore as inimical to their own, cherished dirt racing culture.

Animal Kingdom is trained on a European-style estate in Maryland – just 40 miles up the road from Pimlico, home of the Preakness – and had never run on dirt before he went to Churchill Downs. His bloodlines are extremely cosmopolitan: his sire was foaled in Brazil, his dam in Germany. As it happens, his trainer was himself born in England, albeit Graham Motion emigrated with his family as an adolescent.

It is possible that the Derby was run in a fashion calculated to suit not only this colt, but the Ballydoyle raider, Master Of Hounds, who excelled in fifth. But it is worth noting that last year Paddy O'Prado came third before winning the Secretariat Stakes, on turf, in Chicago. Conceivably the disparities in racing surface – historically considered all but insurmountable – are being narrowed by the fact that the Triple Crown races demand more stamina than you tend to find in modern dirt pedigrees.

Aside from the prerequisite of sheer class, a Triple Crown colt must be adaptable and robust. And while Motion is resisting all talk of the Belmont, for now, at least Animal Kingdom seems to have absorbed the Derby well. Photographs of the colt out in his paddock show a rich glow in his copper coat.

"He's just run the biggest race of his life [but] so far, from what I've seen, the horse is absolutely fine," Motion says. "I'm impressed with how he's handled everything. His weight is good. He's eating good. He's moving well. I couldn't be happier with how he looks right now, to be honest. I think he's an extraordinary animal. He won with his ears pricked, and galloped out strongly. That's pretty remarkable after a race like the Derby. There didn't seem like there was that frenetic pace and craziness in the race this year. Everybody kind of had a good trip. You know, maybe he didn't have quite as hard a race as he could have done in previous years."

As usual, the Preakness will match various Derby protagonists with some fresh faces, including that of Flashpoint. His trainer, Wesley Ward, caused a sensation at Royal Ascot two years ago when winning with two juvenile howitzers on consecutive days. And while most other top American trainers were in Louisville for the Derby, Ward spent much of the week in France, where he saddled three two-year-olds to win at Chantilly. They will be shipping over for Ascot next month, where Ward intends to be represented in all the juvenile races.

On the home front, the trials at Goodwood today will be guaranteed closer attention than in recent years after producing Snow Fairy and Rewilding 12 months ago. It would be astonishing, however, if the Investec Oaks winner and Derby third were lurking in these fields.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Epsom Salts (3.45 Goodwood) Unlucky second in this last year, off a 6lb higher mark. That run confirmed his relish for switchback courses.

Next best

Coax (2.35 Goodwood) One or two of these have not looked terribly wholehearted and the way he battled to get home over an inadequate trip last time augurs well for this.

One to watch

Racy (Kevin Ryan) Clearly had problems when with Sir Michael Stoute but resumed his career in encouraging fashion in a sprint handicap at York last week, meeting traffic on his way through and doing well to manage third.

Where the money's going

Havant is 11-2 from 7-1 with William Hill for the Investec Oaks; Delegator is 8-1 from 10-1 for the Golden Jubilee.

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Sport
Sam Allardyce
sport
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
Arts and Entertainment
Bob Dylan
art
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?