The Kentucky Derby is known to be one of the most prestigious horse racing events on the racing calendar, as it forms part of the Triple Crown. The 137th hosting of this magnificent event took place on Saturday, 7 May 2011, at Churchill Downs racecourse. No-one could have guessed that a long shot would enter the event and take the victory, but it seems that everything fell into place for both Animal Kingdom and his legendary jockey of the day. It was a day few will ever forget and as the Preakness Stakes looms, all fans can do is wait to see what unfolds.
As fate would have it, Uncle Mo was scratched from the Kentucky Derby, leaving John Velazquez with no mount and the prospect of sitting on the sidelines on Saturday. Robby Albarado on the other hand, did have a mount for the event, but due to a riding accident earlier in the week, he was unable to ride in the Kentucky Derby, pushing Animal Kingdom and John Velazquez into each other’s paths. Getting onto the long shot of the field did not seem to bother Velazquez much, as he had a mount and entered the starting gates with the mindset of making the most of the race, which they did in spectacular fashion. It did not seem as if Animal Kingdom found the race to be extremely difficult as he came roaring down the final stretch of the Kentucky Derby to win comfortably, with Nehro taking second place and being followed home by Mucho Man and Shackleford. Having the rose garland placed on the neck of Animal Kingdom was a great moment for trainer Graham Motion.
They will most definitely be working towards the Preakness Stakes next, and as Uncle Mo will not be participating, Motion hopes they can retain the services of John Velazquez. The Preakness Stakes will be hosted by Pimlico Racecourse on 21 May 2011. As Animal Kingdom has enjoyed quite a relaxing three-year-old campaign, Motion is certain that being able to enter a fresh and well rested horse in the Preakness will count in their favor. Animal Kingdom is owned by Team Valor International of which Barry Irwin is the president. After the race, Animal Kingdom devoured all his feed that evening, showing no signs of distress or tiredness, taking every moment in his stride.