Race of the Week 2017

Animal Kingdom is King of the Derby

Animal Kingdom and John Velazquez take Kentucky Derby 137
Zipse’s Kentucky Derby Daily – The Day After

It’s not always the case to say the best horse won the Kentucky Derby, but after watching Animal Kingdom roll down the lane yesterday to win the 137th edition of the Run for the Roses by an ever widening 2 ¾ lengths, I would have a hard time saying that anyone but the winner was the best horse in that field.

Early in the stretch it became clear that Team Valor International's Animal Kingdom was going to be the force that everyone would need to deal with. The beautiful chestnut burst through a small opening on the far turn and circled wide before coming down the middle of the track powerfully to easily defeat 2nd place finisher Nehro. Mucho Macho Man finished strongly to just miss 2nd, while pacesetter Shackleford held well to finish 4th.

John Velazquez, the replacement for Robby Albarado, who suffered a broken nose earlier in the week, was able to settle the winner comfortably in mid-pack as Shackleford set a moderate pace of :23 3/5, :48 1/5 and 1:12 4/5. When he asked Animal Kingdom for run on the turn he received the answer he was hoping for. Sent of as 20-1 shot outsider in the field of 19, Animal Kingdom completed the most exciting two minutes in sports in a time of 2:02.04.

A son of the Brazilian bred Leroidesanimaux, Animal Kingdom won for the 3rd time, with two 2nd place finishes in only five lifetime starts.

For winning trainer Graham Motion, the victory came after a tough week. The Englishman expected to have two horses in the Kentucky Derby, but less than seven days from the big race, Toby’s Corner became lame. The Wood Memorial winner’s injury is not considered serious, but it was a major blow to the trainer trying to win his first Classic race. So Animal Kingdom became Motion’s lone Derby entrant, and he did not disappoint.

Moving on to Baltimore for racing’s middle jewel, it appears the Preakness should attract a large group attempting to derail Animal Kingdom from heading to New York a potential Triple Crown champion. Besides the winner, Nehro, Mucho Macho Man, Shackleford, Santiva, and Dialed In are all considered either likely or possible for the Preakness. While the Derby contigent may number six, the new shooters could be an even larger number, including Sway Away (the last horse left out of the Derby), Astrology, Mr. Commons, Dance City, Flashpoint, Concealed Identity, King Congie, Norman Asbjornson, and Prime Cut.

Clearly Animal Kingdom will have his work cut out for him if he is to become a Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, but after watching him sail home impressively in front of the largest Derby crowd ever, I would have to say he is the horse to beat on May 21.



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Older Comments about Animal Kingdom is King of the Derby...

Right now, I like Mr. Commons and Astrology to run on under the AK at Pimlico. Hats off to Neumeier for providing yet another beautiful derby moment when he asked crusty Barry how many trainers had lied to him....."PLENTY!" fired the old curmudgeon.Neumeier's reply was great...."Barry Irwin, Honest Guy"
They won't stop him at old hilltop. Turn up the fractions, he'll still be there. I looked at his turf splits at GP, 3/3/11 and he was coming home on decent splits in that one mile race. He has better turn of feet action than I originally thought. As Gary Stevens said right after watching the overhead replay."This horse is going to love Pimlico with his running style and the way he quickens up." Should be exciting. Who'll be there with him? Nehro needs a break. Mucho looks like a plodder best for Belmont. Shackleford, prime candidate to bounce.
Absolutely! !Depends Once Again How Much Legitimate Speed & Fractions They Cover & How Many Speed Horses There Are. Is It Me Or Do You Think That Some Of These Jockey/Trainer's Strategy Of Respecting The Speed Too Much? i.e.: Gomez Not Taking The Hound More Forwardly & Laporeaux Trying To Pull Off A "Borel"!!
In this years crop anything is possible..he will come up against some tough new fresh shooters in each race..he proved to me that he is a really good horse..it remains to be seen if he is a great horse.
Could Anumal Kingdom be a triple crowner? Maybe.....unless Jaycoti shows up at the Belmont and nips at the wire just like his daddy Victory Gallop did! I have the foals already named. AP Animal AP Kingdom, Smarty Kingdom, Zenyat Kingdom, Tale of the Kingdom, Animal Cat, Smart Animal, etc etc!
Animal Kingdom had the highest Tomlinson number (365) out of the 2011 Derby field. Nehro (306), Mucho Macho Man (188), Shackleford (298), Master of Hounds (340). AK obviously rans a great race, but Shakleford impressed me as well. Set the tepid pace, lead with about 2 or 3 furlongs left and was still able to hold on for 4th. May be a better as a miler for his 4 YO campaign. Thoughts? Top 5 Derby horses ALL from double digit post positions which I found funny but makes sense on paper. Will Robby get the mount for the Preakness?
hindsight being 20/20 I don't know how I left Animal Kingdom out of my plays as I was high on Brilliant Speed.Sometimes you get so stuck on one horse you almost go blind,I know I got caught sleeping here with a lot of others.I just couldn't see past Midnight Interlude.My mistake and I'll live with it.congrats to those who had him.
Forget about Uncle Mo, when it comes to the Derby...UNCLE! I give up. This race has turned into an eternal stab fest.
Makes sense to be impressed ;-) He ran a similar race in the Derby, as he did in the Spiral, only better. Certainly the distance was a good thing. Ann, I was there at Arlington that day for his debut, and I was impressed with him then. The Preakness should be interesting.
I just reviewed all the races available. Animal Kingdom seems to be so very, very versatile! He had never run on the dirt before, but seemed to just take to it so easily. He ran in his maiden race close to the lead, and in the Vinery Spiral he ran as a closer, coming from dead last to win. In the Derby, the reviewer at Brisnet.com said "he was reserved for a half, advanced 4 wide with 3 furlongs to go, came out six wide into the stretch, made a good run to challenge with a furlong to go, took over once in the final furlong and slowly increased his lead while drifting out late." Is that kind of like running as a closer? So, he can run close to the lead, he can close from the back of the pack. This horse may just have a chance at the TC...he seems to be so versatile! Duh, what can't he do? I'm totally impressed!
I think he is just getting "warmed up" He ran just the way he ran in his last work, very powerful at the end! He will run another big one in the Preakness, but wil have to catch the speedy Flashpoint! (my exacta bet for the Preakness)
Can't say anything bad about this horse. He proved himself beyond question, and broke some "rules" in doing it. He didn't have the traditional "road" to the Derby, and he hadn't raced on dirt previously. I think that one thing probably kept him below the radar on most experts' Derby finishers lists. Am glad this was a deserving "connections", that is, they had been to the Derby but this was everyone's first win, so very happy for the trainer and the jockey! Looking forward to the Preakness!

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