Kentucky Derby champ Animal Kingdom making strides in his comeback bid [Sports]

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It’s a long road back, but 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is making great strides in his bid to return to the track.

The son of Leroidesanimaux suffered an injury to his left hind leg that was discovered after his sixth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes in June. The colt was bumped at the start of the race and nearly lost jockey John Velazquez.

Animal Kingdom underwent surgery on June 30 for the hairline fracture that required two screws. After several weeks of stall rest, he began exercising on an Aquatred - a water treadmill for horses - at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

Animal Kingdom was recently cleared to start light training. He began jogging this week along with stablemate Toby’s Corner, the 2011 Wood Memorial winner who is also returning from time off.

“They jogged about 10 minutes, which was tremendous,” trainer Graham Motion said. “They both looked really well. They're both a little overweight, but I couldn't be happier with how they are doing." 

Animal Kingdom is expected to remain at Fair Hill until the winter, when he will continue his training in Florida.

Motion and Animal Kingdom’s owners, Team Valor, have indicated the long-range plan is for the colt to compete in the 2012 Dubai World Cup at Meydan on March 31.

Photo: J.J. Hysell