Team Valor International’s ANIMAL KINGDOM (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]) answered any questions about his aptitude for dirt, or readiness for the Kentucky Derby (G1), Saturday morning with a sharp six-furlong work in 1:13 at Churchill Downs.

With jockey Robby Albarado aboard and working in company with stablemate Meistersinger (Yes It’s True), the Spiral S. (G3) winner turned in fractions of :12 2/5, :24 4/5, :37 1/5 and :49 1/5 on the fast track. His gallop-out time for seven furlongs was 1:26 2/5.

Animal Kingdom broke off about three lengths behind Meistersinger, pulled even and traveled with him for a while, then drew off in the stretch. The impressive breeze came a week after the colt had a slower-than-expected time in a work at Keeneland that didn’t develop as planned.

“As disappointed as I was with how things turned out last week, I couldn’t have been happier this week,” trainer Graham Motion said. “Last week everything did not go perfectly. Today, everything went perfectly. Just cut and dried, really.”

Motion had a set of instructions for Albarado to follow in the work.

“I told him I wanted to go three-quarters. In an ideal world, I’d like the horses to work together, but I said, ‘If you turn for home and you’ve got plenty of horse, you need to make him work out and get something out of it.’ That’s exactly what he did.”

Motion said the colt, who never has competed on dirt in his four-race career, looks to be ready for the Derby.

“Knock on wood, if he’s all right physically, yes, absolutely,” Motion said.

Motion was scheduled to head back to Maryland, where his other Derby horse, TOBY’S CORNER (Bellamy Road), will breeze at 8 a.m. (EDT) Sunday at the Fair Hill training center.

Toby’s Corner, bred and owned by Dianne Cotter, has won four of six lifetime starts and earned his trip to the Derby with a victory in the Wood Memorial (G1) on April 9 at Aqueduct.

Motion said he was changing his plans for moving the colt from Elkton, Maryland, to Louisville, Kentucky.

“I’m going to push Toby’s Corner’s shipping to Tuesday instead of Monday, just to give him an extra day,” Motion said. “It’s something that has been on my mind and the weather forecast isn’t that great for here. I don’t see any need for him to get in here on Monday. I’m just going to wait, let him work tomorrow, give him an easy day on Monday and ship him on Tuesday.”

Motion said that he would return to Louisville on Tuesday.

Mucho Macho Man was looking around in his work (Reed Palmer Photography/Churchill Downs)
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and Dream Team Racing’s MUCHO MACHO MAN (Macho Uno) went to the track at Churchill Downs after the renovation break Saturday morning for his final workout for the Kentucky Derby.

Jockey Rajiv Maragh breezed the Kathy Ritvo trainee five furlongs in 1:02 2/5, the fourth-fastest clocking of 36 at the distance.

“I just wanted for Rajiv to get a good work and kind of let him do it on his own. He said he was kind of looking around today, so that’s when he hit him a couple times,” Ritvo said. “It was important for me to get a work on a dry track. Last week we worked on a wet track. I wanted to have both.”

Mucho Macho Man, who had worked seven furlongs over a sloppy track at Churchill last Sunday, turned in splits of :12 4/5, :25 3/5 and :37 on his way to the final clocking and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 1/5. Ritvo said both works served their purposes.

“They’re way different. Last time, it was like maintenance and we wanted to make sure he didn’t get too tired. This time, we were just letting him get a feel for the dry race track,” the South Florida-based trainer said. “He’s doing great. I can’t ask him to do any better than he’s doing right now. I’m really happy with everything.”

Maragh, who rode the Florida-bred colt to victory in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds in February, said Mucho Macho Man started to look around in the stretch Saturday, but finished up well once he got him to focus.

“What I liked the most about the work as opposed to the last work was that he wasn’t goofing around down the lane,” Maragh said. “I liked the way he finished up when I got into him.”

Mucho Macho Man was favored for the Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 26 but finished third, beaten by less than a length, after losing a right front shoe leaving the starting gate.

“I think it definitely, definitely cost him the race. I mean, he ran without a right front shoe from the start. Being a little bit younger, being a June foal, he took some time to figure out what was going on,” said Ritvo, whose colt now wears glue-on shoes on his front feet. “He was switching leads back and forth, so he was definitely compensating for losing the shoe.”

Shackleford sizzled a bullet five furlongs (Harold Roth/ An interested observer to the final Kentucky Derby work of Michael Lauffer and W.D. Cubbedge’s SHACKLEFORD (Forestry) was jockey Jesus Castanon, who is one week away from riding in his first Kentucky Derby.
“You can’t see as much from back here as over there (in the grandstand),” Castanon said, “but what I did see, he looked good and seemed like he did it pretty easy.”

What he saw parts of was a bullet, five-furlong work in :58 4/5 by Shackleford with Tammy Fox in the irons. Working solo after the renovation break, Shackleford posted fractions of :11 3/5, :23, :34 2/5 and out six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 for the fastest five-eighths work of 36 at the distance.

“It was a good work and I was really impressed with his gallop-out,” trainer Dale Romans said of the work that was the colt’s second here since finishing second in the Florida Derby (G1) on April 3. “He just loves this track and he loved it here last year as two-year-old.”

Shackleford, who broke his maiden on his second try at Churchill Downs last fall, had worked a bullet last Saturday in 1:00 1/5 over a sloppy track.

“He’s as good as I can get him,” Romans said. “It is just a question of whether he is good enough.”

Edward Brown Jr., Victor Flores and Henry Hernandez’s Sunland Derby (G3) hero TWICE THE APPEAL (Successful Appeal) was trackside Saturday morning at 6:15 with the-man-with-the-magic-Derby-touch on his back, namely Calvin Borel. The veteran rider, who has won three of the past four editions of the Run for the Roses, will try to extend his almost unreal run in America’s most famous race next Saturday aboard the colt he was meeting for the first time before sunup on the Churchill Downs backside.

Borel and his new friend got right down to business along the rail with a six-furlong drill that the track’s clockers registered at 1:15 3/5. Along the way the colt, wearing his usual blinkers, registered splits of :13 2/5, :26, :38 1/5, :50 2/5 and 1:02 4/5, then galloped out seven furlongs in 1:29 1/5.

“He felt good,” Borel said afterward back at Barn 42. “He clipped right along. And I liked the way he finished up.”

Twice the Appeal has more gears than Mine That Bird, according to Calvin Borel (Coady Photography) Borel won the 2009 Kentucky Derby aboard an outsider named Mine That Bird, who came into the race after finishing fourth in the Sunland Derby in New Mexico. Twice the Appeal comes into this year’s Derby having just won that same Sunland Derby. Did his new mount via New Mexico feel anything like his other one?
“No, not really,” Borel said. “The other horse (Mine That Bird) was more of a plodder. He’d just go along there and then finish strong. This horse moved along the whole while better. And he galloped right out for me.”

Northern California-based trainer Jeff Bonde trains Twice the Appeal and was pleased with his final pre-Derby drill.

“He never has (worked fast),” Bonde said. “It’s just not his style. But he’ll run on; the distance should be no problem for him. And he had a real good gallop-out today, which is what we wanted. His weight is good and he traveled (to Kentucky) well. He’s doing it all right.”

Based on his Sunland Derby winnings, Twice the Appeal is assured a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. But that’s not true for trainer Bonde’s other charge, SWAY AWAY (Afleet Alex), who currently ranks No. 24 on a list of potential Derby starters that will only allow for 20 runners.

Nonetheless, the conditioner is moving forward with Sway Away as if he will run next Saturday and put him through a six-furlong drill this Saturday at 6:45 with exercise rider Brian Hernandez aboard. Sway Away accomplished his move in 1:14, then galloped out strongly to finish up another furlong in 1:27 3/5. The track’s clockers caught his early splits in :13 2/5, :26, :38 4/5, :50 4/5 and 1:02 2/5.

“He finished up strong,” Bonde said. “I liked that a lot. I sure hope I get a chance to run. This colt belongs in there.”

Multiple Grade 2-placed Sway Away, most recently the fourth-place finisher in the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park on April 16, has had four riders in his five-race career thus far. If he does make it to the Derby, he’ll get another new partner. Bonde said he’d secured a call for his charge by one of Southern California’s top riders, Martin Garcia.

Alpha Stables, Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable’s TWINSPIRED (Harlan’s Holiday) completed his major training for Derby 137 by working five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 at the nearby Trackside Training Center.

With exercise rider Derrick Smith up, Twinspired’s time was the third fastest of nine at the distance over a Trackside course labeled as fast.

“He went well,” trainer Mike Maker said. “He will go back to the track Monday and most likely train (at Trackside) Tuesday morning before he comes over there.”

Runner-up in the Blue Grass (G1) in his most recent start, Twinspired will be ridden in the Derby by Mike Smith.