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.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Chelsea are interested in loaning out Romelu Lukaku to Everton again next season
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
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

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series