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HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Why Not Animal Kingdom?

It has been years since we have experienced the thrill of a Triple Crown, 33 long years. We have seen many great, brilliant horses like Spectacular Bid, Silver Charm, Real Quiet, Point Given, Smarty Jones, and Big Brown, falter in one race or another, ultimately denying the Triple Crown glory. All of them looked like sure things as they embarked on their Triple Crown journey, especially Spectacular Bid, Point Given, Smarty, and Big Brown. Three of those succumbed to the rigors of the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes, while Point Given stunned his followers when finishing a well beaten fifth in the Kentucky Derby. If we have learned anything from these stunning defeats it is that even the surest win can turn to loss. In knowing this, why couldn’t the horse that is the farthest from a lock, the one that nobody expects, be the one to rise to the occasion?

Animal Kingdom, this year’s Kentucky Derby victor, shocked the nation when he won the most prestigious and famous race in America at odds of 27-1. The chestnut colt had never won a grade one race, had never run over dirt, and he was coming into the Derby off of six week layoff. According to history this colt and accoring to the trends he should have never won the the Kentucky Derby, yet he defied the surest stats to win the race going away. Could it be that one of the most mysterious Derby winners the Triple Crown has seen may be the one to claim the glory.

Many of us may still question Animal Kingdom’s ability to handle dirt, since the Churchill Downs main track has proven to be kind to turf runners in the past. The colts pedigree, also, at first glance does not inspire confidence in his ability to handle dirt. His sire, Leroidesanimaux, was a champion over turf, however, his grandsire Candy Stripes, was able to sire champions on any surface, including such champions as Horse of the Year Invasor, as well as Leroidesanimaux. He is also the broodmare sire of Candy Ride, who was a Champion in Argentina over dirt. Candy Ride also proved to be able to pass along the gene of versatility. Two of the most recent examples are his sons Sidney’s Candy and Twirling Candy. The latter has grade stakes wins over turf and dirt while Sidney’s Candy has a grade one win over synthetics and grade two stakes wins over dirt and turf.

Animal Kingdom may have gone off at long odds, however with his breeding, soundness, and potential he has a legitimate shot at becoming the first horse since Affirmed to sweep the Triple Crown.  Unlike the past “sure things”, he has the breeding, he has the mind, and is coming into his own at the correct time. Will it be easy? I am not saying it will be. How could it be considered such after a drought over three decades long? What I am saying is that even though he may be one of the most unpredictable horses to make an assault on the Triple Crown, he may just be the one with the best chance.


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Older Comments about Why Not Animal Kingdom?...

I think he has a big shot at the Triple Crown. The Preakness winner usually comes out of the Derby and Mucho Macho Man looks like the only horse from the Derby that could beat him. The Belmont will be tough, but it seems to be a riders race and Animal Kingdom will have a great jockey for the Belmont This could be the year!
Bearing our can indicate inexperience also. Most horses running in the Derby exert an effort that they have never had to do before, and bearing out in the stretch is also not uncommon, especially for a horse who was in his fifth lifetime start. He got ahead and probably lost focus, which a lot of horses will do.
  • Show All 3 Comments
  • JohnnyTroche Jr · and i meant running first time dirt coming from poly.. and bouncing terribly next time running on dirt. the bore out AND a top effort combined are significant. · 2142 days ago
  • DeadHeat · Watch him come back after the race. he was not a tired horse in the least. Most Derby winners to not win by many lengths. Only recently have horses like Barbaro and BB been able to blow the Derby apart. POTN, your example ran on mud in the KY Derby. He was coming off a string off big efforts, including the Derby where he faught his guts out. AK won on a dry track and did it fairly easily. He, unlike POTN has six weeks rest entering the TC, leaving him fresher than POTN was. An example of a horse who took to dirt and dominated was IWR. Before his injury he dominated over dirt. Others include horses I mentioned in this blog, Sidney's Candy has run very well over all surfaces. So as you can see horses can go either way on that particular stat. · 2142 days ago
Bearing our can indicate inexperience also. Most horses running in the Derby exert an effort that they have never had to do before, and bearing out in the stretch is also not uncommon, especially for a horse who was in his fifth lifetime start. He got ahead and probably lost focus, which a lot of horses will do.
Liking Dialed In this time around if the pace is quicker in the preakness and it should be.
Why not indeed? I know I will be rooting for him!
he bore out last time indicating an exerted effort in which he has never run before. with 2 weeks off and 2nd time dirt its unlikely he will run well in the preakness in my opinion.

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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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