Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - A record crowd was on hand to see a surprise win during Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Nearly 165,000 people watched Animal Kingdom cross the finish line first. Monday morning, the derby winner is looking ahead to the Preakness Stakes. The horse will leave Churchill Downs Tuesday to go to Maryland where he will train for the Preakness.
"It's kind of a daunting task,” said Animal Kingdom trainer Graham Motion outside his barn on Monday. “You win the derby then you wake up the next morning and you've got to think about winning the Preakness two weeks later."
Proceeding with cautious optimism -- that's how you might describe the connections of Animal Kingdom. The Derby winner sitting Monday morning in a non-descript barn on the backside of Churchill Downs with no fanfare, no signage. It’s just another quiet sunrise after a morning walk. Both his owner and trainer are careful to say he will only run if he's up to it.
"I'm a careful guy. Let's see how he's doing,” said owner Barry Irwin a day after the win. “Your average derby winner has a tough time and if something happens… then you've got nothing. I don't run that kind of operation."
The 20-to-1 long shot came out of nowhere to win Saturday's race with ease -- despite it being his first time racing on the dirt. Even his trainer said he was "shocked" by the win. And now he's looking ahead to the Preakness and even the Belmont.
"I don't want to get too far ahead of myself,” said Motion. “But if we get to that point... that's something that he's bred to do."
Animal Kingdom leaves Tuesday for Fair Hill training Center in Maryland. The Preakness Stakes is May 21st in Baltimore, Maryland.
So far – the Derby horses who will compete in the Preakness are “Animal Kingdom,” Derby favorite “Dialed In,” “Shackleford” and “Mucho Macho Man.” We hear “Uncle Mo” is definitely out. Derby show horse “Nehro” is a possible to run, but not probable, according to his trainer. They plan to focus on the Belmont race instead.