2012 Breeders' Cup Mile: Animal Kingdom To Return Against The Best

Harry How - Getty Images

2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom hasn't raced since February. What are his chances of winning the Breeders' Cup Mile?

Team Valor announced on their website that 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom will return to the races in this year's Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita, a development that is sure to add some punch to this year's festivities.

When we last saw Animal Kingdom, he was dominating a turf race at Gulfstream Park on February 18th. He came out of that race with an injury and has been on the sidelines ever since. Originally, Animal Kingdom was pointed towards this year's Dubai World Cup at Meydan, a race that now occurs over a synthetic surface.

Regardless of how well Animal Kingdom as been working, the running in the Mile in his first race since February is a daunting task for the Derby winner. Simply put, we rarely see horses win a Breeders' Cup race off of similar layoffs.

Last year I put together a chart of Breeders' Cup winners since 2005 and the layoffs for each. I haven't updated the data for include 2011 but I think it's clear that Animal Kingdom is attempting something historic.

Year Date Race Winner LastTrack LastDate DaysOff WeeksOff
2006 4-Nov Classic Invasor SAR 5-Aug 91 13
2010 6-Nov Sprint Big Drama SAR 4-Sep 63 9
2008 25-Oct Sprint Midnight Lute DMR 24-Aug 62 9
2007 26-Oct Filly & Mare Sprint Maryfield SAR 26-Aug 61 9
2006 4-Nov Turf Red Rocks (IRE) YOR 6-Sep 59 8
2007 27-Oct Sprint Midnight Lute SAR 1-Sep 56 8
2006 4-Nov Filly & Mare Turf Ouija Board (GB) LEO 9-Sep 56 8
2010 5-Nov Marathon Eldaafer TP 11-Sep 55 8
2007 26-Oct Dirt Mile Corinthian SAR 1-Sep 55 8
2005 29-Oct Juvenile Stevie Wonderboy DMR 7-Sep 52 7
2010 6-Nov Turf Dangerous Midge NBY 17-Sep 50 7
2005 29-Oct Classic Saint Liam BEL 10-Sep 49 7
2010 5-Nov Juvenile Fillies Turf More Than Real WO 18-Sep 48 7
2008 25-Oct Mile Goldikova (IRE) LCH 7-Sep 48 7
2006 4-Nov Juvenile Fillies Dreaming of Anna WO 17-Sep 48 7
2005 29-Oct Sprint Silver Train BEL 11-Sep 48 7
2008 24-Oct Filly & Mare Sprint Ventura WO 7-Sep 47 7
2009 7-Nov Dirt Mile Furthest Land TP 25-Sep 43 6
2008 25-Oct Turf Conduit (IRE) DON 13-Sep 42 6
2005 29-Oct Juvenile Fillies Folkore BEL 17-Sep 42 6
2007 27-Oct Mile Kip Deville WO 16-Sep 41 6
2009 7-Nov Turf Sprint California Flag OSA 30-Sep 38 5
2010 6-Nov Dirt Mile Dakota Phone OTH 2-Oct 35 5
2010 6-Nov Classic Blame BEL 2-Oct 35 5
2009 7-Nov Sprint Dancing in Silks OSA 3-Oct 35 5
2009 7-Nov Mile Goldikova (IRE) LCH 3-Oct 35 5
2010 5-Nov Filly & Mare Turf Shared Account BEL 2-Oct 34 5
2010 5-Nov Ladies' Classic Unrivaled Belle BEL 2-Oct 34 5
2010 6-Nov Mile Goldikova (IRE) LCH 3-Oct 34 5
2009 7-Nov Juvenile Turf Pounced LCH 4-Oct 34 5
2009 7-Nov Turf Conduit (IRE) LCH 4-Oct 34 5
2009 6-Nov Juvenile Fillies Turf Tapitsfly BEL 4-Oct 33 5
2009 6-Nov Filly & Mare Turf Midday (GB) LCH 4-Oct 33 5
2008 25-Oct Turf Sprint Desert Code OSA 24-Sep 31 4
2009 7-Nov Classic Zenyatta OSA 9-Oct 29 4
2008 25-Oct Marathon Muhannak (IRE) DUN 26-Sep 29 4
2010 6-Nov Turf Sprint Chamberlain Bridge KEE 9-Oct 28 4
2010 6-Nov Juvenile Uncle Mo BEL 9-Oct 28 4
2009 6-Nov Juvenile Fillies She Be Wild KEE 9-Oct 28 4
2009 6-Nov Ladies' Classic Life Is Sweet OSA 9-Oct 28 4
2008 25-Oct Dirt Mile Albertus Maximus OSA 27-Sep 28 4
2008 25-Oct Classic Raven's Pass ASC 27-Sep 28 4
2007 27-Oct Filly & Mare Turf Lahudood (GB) BEL 29-Sep 28 4
2006 4-Nov Juvenile Street Sense KEE 7-Oct 28 4
2006 4-Nov Sprint Thor's Echo OSA 7-Oct 28 4
2006 4-Nov Mile Miesque's Approval KEE 7-Oct 28 4
2006 4-Nov Distaff Round Pond BEL 7-Oct 28 4
2010 5-Nov Filly & Mare Sprint Dubai Majesty KEE 9-Oct 27 4
2009 6-Nov Filly & Mare Sprint Informed Decision KEE 10-Oct 27 4
2009 7-Nov Juvenile Vale of York (IRE) MIL 11-Oct 27 4
2008 24-Oct Juvenile Fillies Stardom Bound OSA 27-Sep 27 4
2008 24-Oct Ladies' Classic Zenyatta OSA 27-Sep 27 4
2008 25-Oct Juvenile Midshipman OSA 28-Sep 27 4
2007 27-Oct Distaff Ginger Punch BEL 30-Sep 27 4
2007 27-Oct Turf English Channel BEL 30-Sep 27 4
2007 27-Oct Classic Curlin BEL 30-Sep 27 4
2005 29-Oct Mile Artie Schiller BEL 2-Oct 27 4
2005 29-Oct Turf Shirocco (GER) LCH 2-Oct 27 4
2008 24-Oct Juvenile Fillies Turf Maram BEL 1-Oct 23 3
2009 6-Nov Marathon Man of Iron DUN 16-Oct 21 3
2008 24-Oct Filly & Mare Turf Forever Together KEE 3-Oct 21 3
2008 25-Oct Juvenile Turf Donativum (GB) NEW 4-Oct 21 3
2007 27-Oct Juvenile Fillies Indian Blessing BEL 6-Oct 21 3
2007 27-Oct Juvenile War Pass BEL 6-Oct 21 3
2010 5-Nov Juvenile Fillies Awesome Feather CRC 16-Oct 20 3
2005 29-Oct Filly & Mare Turf Intercontinental (GB) KEE 9-Oct 20 3
2005 29-Oct Distaff Pleasant Home KEE 9-Oct 20 3
2010 6-Nov Juvenile Turf Pluck WO 18-Oct 19 3
2007 26-Oct Juvenile Turf Nownownow KEE 7-Oct 19 3

That chart is pretty telling in terms of recent history. Animal Kingdom's layoff coming into the Mile towers over the three month layoff for Invasor and would be, by far, the longest layoff for a Breeders' Cup winner since 2005.

Animal Kingdom has worked steadily at the Fair Hill training center since late August, with his last three works on the turf.

Date Track Dist Time Surf Cond. B/H
10/02/2012 FAI 4F :50.20 Turf Firm B
09/25/2012 FAI 4F :49.00 Turf Firm B
09/18/2012 FAI 4F :49.00 Turf Firm B
09/12/2012 FAI 5F 1:01.40 Dirt Fast B
09/05/2012 FAI 4F :48.40 Dirt Fast B
08/29/2012 FAI 4F :48.40 Dirt Fast B
08/21/2012 FAI 3F :37.20 Dirt Fast B

If Animal Kingdom were to win the Breeders' Cup Mile he would become a graded stakes winner on turf, dirt and synthetic and a Grade 1 winner on turf and dirt.

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