Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom was loaded early yesterday morning onto a van headed for Elkton, Md., where the 3-year-old chestnut colt will prepare for the Preakness Stakes on May 21 at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, MD.
Owned by racing partnership Team Valor International, Animal Kingdom was joined in the van by his groom, Porfirio Fernandez, and Summer Soiree, another horse trained by Graham Motion.
Animal Kingdom will stay at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton. The nearly 700-mile drive will take approximately 11 hours.
“Just peace and quiet here,” said Dave Rock, assistant trainer for Motion, who left for Maryland on Monday. “Now we start all over again.”
Animal Kingdom has walked daily in Churchill Downs’ Barn 22 since Saturday’s race and will make his return to the track for a jog in Maryland on Wednesday.
“We always walk them for three days and then start back training,” Rock said.
With the short two-week turnaround heading into the Preakness, Rock anticipated that the horse would not work between races.
“We don’t usually run horses in two weeks, either. But you kinda have to at this point, right,” Rock said with a chuckle.
Animal Kingdom’s Derby win was his debut on dirt, a first in the history of the race. A win in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness would set up the chance to be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. The third and final leg of the series, the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes, will run June 11.
(Photos by Baltimore Sun’s Karl Merton Ferron / May 10, 2011)