There were a pair of graded Kentucky Derby preps run on March 26. Pants On Fire beat Mucho Macho Man in the Louisiana Derby and Animal Kingdom looked good in the Spiral Stakes, but it was the runner-up in the non-graded Rushaway that caught my eye. Crimson China
and Animal Kingdom are both owned by Team Valor International and they wanted to run the former in the Spiral but he did not make the cut. It ended up working out fine since they nabbed the Spiral with their second stringer
As for the Rushaway, Swift Warrior set soft splits and held off a hard charging Crimson China, who was away slowly but finished full of run.
In the nine furlong Spiral the fractions were :23.57, :46.56, 1:12.57, 1:38.96, and 1:52.32, good for a BSF of 91. Animal Kingdom is lightly raced and on the improve but sports the look of a turf/synthetic specialist.
The 8.5 furlong Rushaway splits were :24.52, :48.92, 1:13.22, 1:39.11, and 1:45.73. Swift Warrior garnered an 89 BSF for his wire job win.
Crimson China was a good ten lengths back after the opening quarter and will still far back at the six furlong mark. He made a wide sweeping move in a clearly second best effort and obviously has talent.
The 3-year-old son of Giant's Causeway began his career with a nose defeat at Kempton Park in Great Britain, followed by a sharp graduation run at Wolverhampton in November.
He was brought to the states and transferred to the Graham Motion barn. Their original first target was the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park but he did not make that event. He made his 2011 return a winning one in a smart off the pace tally over the Gulfstream weeks in February and might go next in the Blue Grass Stakes following his strong finish in the Rushaway.
The Kentucky-bred colt has never raced on dirt but a victory in the Blue Grass could have his connections dreaming of the first Saturday in May. Even if he doesn't make the Derby he is an exciting performer with a bright future.