Derby champ Animal Kingdom to return Saturday at Gulfstream Park [Sports]

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Graham Motion

Animal Kingdom, 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, is set to make his 4-year-old debut Saturday in an allowance race on turf at Gulfstream Park.

The colt hasn’t raced since a sixth place finish in the Belmont Stakes in June. He was diagnosed with a fracture in his right hind leg following that race and underwent surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center.

Since then, he’s been training for his comeback at Fair Hill in Maryland and Palm Meadows in Florida.

Trainer Graham Motion made the announcement Wednesday on Twitter. The move is a switch from original plans to enter Animal Kingdom in a stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs.

The 1 1/16-mile race is slated as a prep for Animal Kingdom’s next goal, the Dubai World Cup on March 31.

The son of Leroidesanimaux is familiar with the Gulfstream turf course - he finished second in a one-mile allowance race on March 3, 2011.

Photo: J.J. Hysell