By Dick Downey
The Downey Profile
Touted as the more immature of two stablemates, Animal Kingdom won the Grade III Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes after Crimson China finished second in the lesser-regarded Rushway one race earlier at Turfway Park.
Positive Response set a brisk pace for the first half-mile, running it in :46.56, with longshot Son of Posse and Decisive Moment tracking him, switching up in second and third. Animal Kingdom missed the break and was last of eleven after a quarter-mile and seventh after a half.
Heading into the second turn, Decisive Moment had assumed command with the first six furlongs in the book in 1:12.57. Meanwhile, Animal Kingdom was steadily progressing on the leaders.
Moving through the turn, Animal Kingdom continued picking off horses and made his run for the lead.
Into the stretch, it turned into a two-horse race, but Animal Kingdom looked like the clear winner by the sixteenth pole and prevailed over Decisive Moment by 2 3/4 lengths. He was timed in 1:52.32 under Alan Garcia.
Animal Kingdon was sent off at 3-1; Decisive Moment was 6-1. Twinspired (14-1) finished third, beaten six lengths, and Beachcombing (8-1) was another 5 3/4 lengths back in third.
The order of finish was completed by Taptowne, Preachintothedevil, Son of Posse, Positive Response, Thirtyfirststreet, Glint and Rescind the Trade.
Trained by Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom was bred by the owner, Team Valor, from a mating of Leroidesanimaux (BRZ) and the German-bred mare Dalicia.
Animal Kingdom's win netted $285,000 for owner Team Valor International.
Decisive Moment, who already had $206,000 in graded money, picked up another $95,000. Twinspired's share of the $500,000 purse was 47,500.
Whether Animal Kingdom will go to the Kentucky Derby off the win is up in the air, according Team Valor's Barry Irwin and Motion. A decision isn't expected for a couple of weeks, give or take, Motion said. Both of them said Crimson China will be pointed to the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass Stakes on April 16.
It was Motion's second win of this race, having trained Adriano in the 2008 edition of the former Grade II Lane's End Stakes.
Winning trainer Graham Motion: "I think it was a very impressive race today. Today you can't afford to get too far out of it.... That makes his race all that more impressive. We knew there would be an honest pace. I just told Alan to run his race.
We haven't had him on the dirt but it's something Barry (Irwin) and I will talk about. I don't think distance is a problem. ow he's got the earnings. We know he's an impressive animal.
Winning jockey Alan Garcia: My horse didn't break that well, and I had a little bit of trouble around the first turn. So I decided to be patient and save ground. My horse responded very well today. I figured that if he was good enough, he would make a move and he did. I'm very excited. The long distances will be good for him. Wherever they want to go with this horse, I want to be there."
Juan Arias, trainer of Decisive Moment: I'm pleased with the job my rider did, and I'm pleased with the horse. They both gave me 120 percent today. We will try to take him to the Kentucky Derby."
Kerwin Clark: I had a really good trip. The horse was a tad confused running on the Polytrack, but he did lay off the pace so easy with his ears straight up. He's getting better every time I ride him. The (Risen Star), he didn't handle the race track. Usually he doesn't let a horse get by him, but that was a good horse that beat us today."
Mike Maker, trainer of Twinspired: “He ran well. Nothing more to say.”
Victor Lebron, rider of of Twinspired: “We had a little bit of a rough trip at the beginning. We kind of got a little squeezed in around the turn. After that I kind of had to manage my way and steer him along and he came running at the end. The distance wasn’t an issue. He came running at the end and was giving me all he had and every step he took was a gaining step. If we had a different trip at the beginning, he would’ve at least gotten second. He gave everything, no excuses about the race.”
Positive Response trainer Billy Morey “We’re very disappointed. When I saw the pace I was beyond concerned. They went 21 and change for the second quarter, and when they hung that up, I knew we were in trouble. We’re going home to regroup.”