LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Though admittedly “shocked” that he won America’s most-famous race, trainer Graham Motion, a British expatriate, on Sunday morning had recovered enough to start focusing on the May 21 Preakness Stakes, which he said would be the next start for Animal Kingdom, the upset winner of Saturday’s 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
“I never anticipated winning the Derby, so it’s a lot to take in,” Motion said Sunday morning at Churchill Downs. “Yesterday was surreal.”
“It’s an odd feeling to have won the Derby, and then you’ve got to start thinking about winning the Preakness. It’s a little daunting.”
Motion, though, was confident Animal Kingdom would perform well in the Derby, calling him a “brilliant horse.”
“I have a lot of confidence in this horse,” Motion said. “He’s the whole package. He has a tremendous disposition.”
Motion said Animal Kingdom would leave Churchill Downs on Tuesday, bound for the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, where Motion is based. He said he would send Animal Kingdom to Pimlico, the home of the Preakness, “probably as late as I can.”
There were 19 horses who ran in the Derby, and a large field seems likely for the Preakness, too. In addition to Animal Kingdom, Mucho Macho Man (third in the Derby) and Dialed In (eighth) are definite. Shackleford (fourth) and Santiva (sixth) are possible.
Horses who did not run in the Derby, but are expected for the Preakness, include Astrology, Concealed Identity, Dance City, Flashpoint, King Congie, Norman Asbjornson, Prime Cut, and Sway Away, and possibly Mr. Commons.
– additional reporting by David Grening and Mike Welsch