Animal Kingdom, the Kentucky Derby winner, will be sent to Belmont Park this weekend to prepare for the June 11 Belmont Stakes and is slated to work a half-mile there on Monday, Barry Irwin, the president of the Team Valor International partnership that owns Animal Kingdom, informed on Tuesday morning.
Also on Tuesday, Belmont Stakes aspirants Monzon and Prime Cut had workouts, and jockey Javier Castellano picked up the mount on Stay Thirsty.
Animal Kingdom has been based at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland since immediately after the May 7 Derby. Since then, the only time he has left that facility was on May 21 to run in the Preakness Stakes, in which he finished second to Shackleford.
According to Irwin, Animal Kingdom “probably” will ship to Belmont Park on Saturday, will gallop Sunday, then breeze Monday. Both Irwin and trainer Graham Motion had expressed a desire to get Animal Kingdom to Belmont Park well in advance of the Belmont Stakes in order to for him to get accustomed to the main track there.
Motion later Tuesday morning said the only reason he would alter the work schedule is “if the weather is shaky.”
Animal Kingdom and Shackleford, along with Mucho Macho Man, are the only horses from this year’s crop who are attempting to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
Two horses who skipped the Derby and Preakness, Prime Cut and Monzon, both worked on Tuesday.
Prime Cut, who finished third in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park in his last start, worked five furlongs in 1:03.60 at Churchill Downs, but trainer Neil Howard said he was still not sure whether Prime Cut would run in the Belmont Stakes.
“He worked very nice, but we haven’t moved to making that decision yet,” Howard said by telephone. “He’s training as nice as you’d want him to.
“But those top two or three are holding their form pretty good,” Howard said, referring to Animal Kingdom and Shackleford. “Some people say, â€˜Those horses should be tired,’ but I didn’t see that.”
Howard said Prime Cut would work a half-mile early next week at Churchill Downs, then would travel to New York next Tuesday if the decision is made to run in the Belmont.
Howard also said that his colt Wilkinson is a possibility for the Belmont. He said he would not have a decision on Wilkinson’s participation until speaking with owner Ed Gaylord, whom Howard said is currently out of the country.
Regardless, Howard said he would not have two entrants in the race.
“If I run, I’d only run one,” he said.
Monzon, who comes off a sixth-place finish in the Peter Pan, worked six furlongs in 1:16 at Sagamore Farm in Maryland.
“He’s doing great,” trainer Nacho Correas said by telephone. “He worked like a monster.”
Correas said Monzon completed his final quarter mile in 23.80 seconds, and final furlong in 11.60 seconds. The all-weather track at Sagamore is six furlongs in circumference, so the work was one lap.
“He will work again next Tuesday, most likely, but this was my key work for him,” Correas said.
Correas said Monzon will ship to Belmont Park on the eve of the Belmont Stakes.
“The night before or very early that morning,” he said. “If you travel during the day, there’s lots of traffic and lots of heat.”
Stay Thirsty, who finished 12th in the Derby but skipped the Preakness, will be ridden in the Belmont by Castellano, according to his agent, Matt Muzikar.