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Animal Kingdom, Ascot, and Shuttlecock

The negative comments poured in after the news hit the fan that a deal had been struck to transfer a majority interest of breeding rights in Animal Kingdom to Australian interests. Never too shy about voicing their opinions, it seems that American race fans had two major gripes with the development. First, it not only means that the 2011 Kentucky Derby winners’ racing season next year would be cut short in order to have him down under in time for their breeding season, (our fall) but it also meant that he would likely make no more than one final start within U.S. borders. Secondly, it became one more example of another of America’s top male runners being snatched up to stand stud in a foreign land. I can certainly understand the frustration, but I have a decidedly different, albeit probably unpopular, take on the subject.

As far as Animal Kingdom’s American racing career being cut short, I see a clear silver lining. Sure it would be nice to see the Team Valor star doing well again next year at Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup, but I must say the prospect of seeing him win races at Dubai and Royal Ascot, interests me even more. 

The world is shrinking, and racing is not, and should not be, immune to this phenomenon. Team Valor's Barry Irwin understands this. Big races are won regularly throughout the world by foreign shippers, and to me this only makes racing on a global scale all the more interesting. The only problem with this belief as an American is we seem to be falling woefully short in the ability to participate in shipping out to win important international races. Many U.S race fans cling to the belief that we are the dominant racing country in the world. I do not; how can I when I see Europeans, Japanese, and Australians routinely ship to other parts of the world to win prestigious races, while we do not?

Now I know there is clearly a surface issue that leaves the Americans at a disadvantage in international racing, as evidenced by our success before the Dubai switch to a synthetic surface, and our failures since, but I think it is vital that we at least try. Otherwise we are in danger of becoming a country that falls farther and farther behind in the level of quality we run on a daily basis at American racetracks.

What better way to go after the big international races than with a horse equipped to actually win them? Enter Animal Kingdom. I struggle to imagine a horse of recent years with a better opportunity to win races on huge international stages than the soon-to-be five-year-old Graham Motion trainee.
 
John Messara of Arrowfield Stud, the farm that will stand the 2011 three-year-old champion in Australia, says, “Animal Kingdom excites us as a rare kind of athlete with a truly international pedigree who is able to express his class on a range of surfaces. He is already rated among the world’s elite turf milers and has the potential to become a global superstar in 2013.”

A global superstar is exactly what Animal Kingdom would become with a win or wins in races like the Dubai World Cup and the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot. It would be a feather in the cap of American racing that cannot be gained from a win in the Breeders’ Cup. It would be racing legitimacy that I believe the United States has begun to lack in recent years. So say what you will about not getting to see the horse poised to become the first Kentucky Derby winner to race at the age of five in thirteen years, more than once in America next year. I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of what he could accomplish in 2013.

As for the breeding aspect of this deal, I can also see a silver lining. Animal Kingdom, “who will begin his stud career in Australia next September and likely shuttle to the Northern Hemisphere beginning in 2014,” according to the Team Valor press release on the deal, is not a horse who will leave America never to be seen again. Or at least that is the hope.

“Likely shuttle to the Northern Hemisphere,” leaves plenty of ambiguity to wonder whether the son of Leroidesanimaux will actually shuttle north every spring, and if in fact it will be the United States that he will be shuttling to, but for now, I believe there is sufficient reason to believe that both will be the case.

Imagine an American sire seeing the best of broodmares from all over the globe. If it all works out, he has the potential to become a sire who stands half the year in America, while at the same time being considered a global superstar as a stallion. There is that global superstar phrase again, but the prospect of seeing an American champion runner, become a Danehill type of sire, while still standing in America, is an intriguing one to say the least. 

So be sad, if you must, on missing out on a handful of American starts next year, or seeing Animal Kingdom first breed in Australia. I see it a different way; the world is shrinking and Animal Kingdom could be just the horse to get America back in the game.

 

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Older Comments about Animal Kingdom, Ascot, and Shuttlecock...

Just be thankful that he will be racing a few more times. We have all wanted to see the feats of which he could be capable when healthy and without interruptions in his training. 2013 will be that year. His success as a sire will be determined later, but I am thankful that we will see him on the biggest stages, where he belongs. What a great athlete.
Be good just to see him fully fit on a track anywhere.
Whoever wrote this article is spot on in their comments that Animal Kingdom going to Dubai and Royal-Ascot is very appealing, and they're also dead right in saying that America has fallen woefully short in having horses good enough to ship to the top international races for sometime now. Another reason I'm often saying I really hope the connections of Wise Dan and Point of Entry ship both horses to Dubai this year. Point of Entry would definitely be a major threat to run a big race against the top European horses, or from other country for that matter, in the Sheema Classic for a $5 million dollar purse. Wise Dan's connections would have the luxury of running him either on the tapeta surface at 10f in the $10 million diollar Dubai World Cup or at 9f on turf in the $5 million dollar Dubai Duty Free. A very nice option to have when it's likely your horse would be the favorite to win either race. I was just saying last weekend when the big G1 races were being run at Sha Tin how awesome it would've been to have seen Point of Entry in that Hong Kong Vase field against the likes of Red Cadeaux, Dunaden, Jaguar Mail, Dancing Rain, etc...and the Hong Kong Mile would've probably been an even bigger betting proposition than the BC Mile was if Wise Dan had been at Sha Tin lining up against 2 horses with the king of blazing turn of foot that Ambitious Dragon and Glorious Days have both shown at Sha Tin.
The bottom line is about money. What I don't like is that AK will race only 3 more times, if all goes well, regardless of where those 3 starts take place. Obviously this must be a lucrative stud deal that allows Team Valor the opportunity to take a shot at getting those big overseas wins. Those wins would make him an even more pricey stallion.
  • 1brick · To this group,its about sport.if it were about money,they would have sent him to stud a year and a half ago. · 734 days ago
Great view Zipse! I'm a racing fan first. Team Valor owes nothing to fans like me. It owes allegience only to the welfare of Animal Kingdom in the next phase of his career. Mr. Irwin is a sportsman of the highest calibre. The fact that he's chose to run AK in the BC Mile against against unarguably the HOTY in Wise Dan, provided American racing fans with a hint of what's to come. Dubai then Australia? Why not? I will see him at Gulfstream, watch the Dubai race on the internet, then follow his breeding career (no matter where he stands) for the next 20+ years. He's one of a kind with a one of a kind owner whose racing industry acumen is beyond reproach.
OMG I am so glad to see this and that you "get" racing and breeding is global and that US needs to get with a global program too I am,of course,disappointed in no BC appearance by AK but his bloodlines will be much appreciated down under Both Australia and Japan have excellent breeding programs drawing in bloodlines from all over the world to diversify their bloodlines We would do well to copy this model Good news for us is American,Melbourne Cup winner and a true stayer,will be stan sding at Calumet this year Here's hoping he is booked solid with some great mares And when Animal Kingdom returns in 2014 the same for him
Your analysis and thoughts line up with a "World Class" athlete. Animal Kingdom has a true shot at letting a U.S. star perform on the world stage both in racing and in breeding.
I am so glad I will get to see him in Florida though before he leaves !
But are we not glad he is NOT going to Japan????????????????? I would rather him go to Australia than anywhere.

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