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Up the Backstretch: Not racing as a Dubai prep

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(Sportsbooks) - When a plan of operation works once there's no sense in altering the fundamentals for future success. Simply repeat as directed and believe that an equal or better outcome will occur.

Former Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom will be given a similar racing, or more accurately, non-racing schedule leading up to the 2013 Dubai World Cup on March 30 that got him prepared for his runner-up finish earlier this month at Santa Anita.

The soon to be 5-year-old, will have just one prep race before starting in the $10 million World Cup, but will be given a rest of considerable time between starts.

The belief by trainer Graham Motion and owner Barry Irwin is that the colt has shown he doesn't need a lot of competition just excellent training to put in a world class effort.

Animal Kingdom finished second in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile after having not raced in 259 days. His trainer now has mapped out a schedule where the horse will start at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 9 in the track's Turf Handicap and not compete again until Dubai.

"I like the timing, the spacing and the surface," said Motion. "I like racing him on grass again, because it is kinder on horses, and he won over the Gulfstream Park course this year and showed a liking for it. He also raced on the grass a year earlier at 3. So he should feel at home.

"As for getting used to the track in Dubai, it is made of Tapeta and while it may not be exactly the same as our course at home or the one as Presque Isle, it should be close enough, so that I am not worried about how he will handle it."

Animal Kingdom will spend time at Palm Meadows Training Center near Gulfstream Park, but is based at Motion's Fair Hill, Md. barn where he recuperated before finishing second to Wise Dan in the Mile on Nov. 3.

It's an interesting way to get a horse ready for the richest race in the world. Give the horse three months off between starts and then another 50 days away from the races.

Irwin's horse has only nine career starts with four wins and four seconds and has banked more than $2.3 million. The colt showed his fondness for synthetic tracks by winning a maiden race two years ago at Keeneland and the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park as his final prep before the 2011 Run for the Roses.

Injury sidelined Animal Kingdom from the 2011 Belmont Stakes until his win in an allowance race in February at Gulfstream Park and again until the Breeders' Cup.

Racing fans don't like their favorite horses not racing, but if the owners and trainers do, then not racing as a training method may catch on.

November 19, 2012, at 03:30 PM ET
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