The 3-year-old son of Leroidesanimaux took a few laps around the shedrow before getting acclimated to his new stall in the barn of trainer David Donk, a longtime friend of the Derby winner’s trainer, H. Graham Motion. He is expected to gallop on the main track later Sunday morning and will have his final pre-race workout on Monday.
Animal Kingdom, a 2 ¾-length winner of the May 7 Derby under jockey John Velazquez, will be bidding to become just the 12th horse in history to complete the Derby-Belmont double, a feat last accomplished by 1995’s 3-Year-Old Champion, Thunder Gulch. Swale (1984), Bold Forbes (1976), Riva Ridge (1972), Chateaugay (1963), Needles (1956), Middleground (1950), Shut Out (1942), Johnstown (1939), Twenty Grand (1931) and Zev (1923) were the only others to win the first and last races in the Triple Crown.
The 1 ½-mile Belmont, which will be run for the 143rd time as the oldest and longest leg of the series, will feature a rematch between Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford, and represents just the 22nd time in the history of the Triple Crown that the Derby and Preakness winners have squared off in the Belmont.
Animal Kingdom, who made his first start on conventional dirt in the Derby, has earned $1,938,700 for Team Valor International and is 3-3-0 in six lifetime starts.
Among the others under consideration for the 1 ½-mile Belmont, which has a maximum field of 16, are Brilliant Speed, seventh in the Kentucky Derby; Harlan’s Hello, winner of an optional claimer at Belmont; Isn’t He Perfect, ninth in the Preakness; Master of Hounds, fifth in the Derby; Monzon, sixth in the Peter Pan; Mucho Macho Man, sixth in the Preakness; Derby runner-up Nehro; Prime Cut, third in the Peter Pan; Ruler On Ice, second in the Frederico Tesio at Pimlico; Santiva, sixth in the Derby, and Stay Thirsty, 12th in the Derby.