Kentucky Derby Winner Animal Kingdom Flops at Royal AscotPeter-Joseph Hegarty
Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby, finished down the field as Declaration Of War won the Queen Anne Stakes on the first day of England’s Royal Ascot meeting.
The four-year-old winner, ridden by Joseph O’Brien and trained by his father Aidan, had odds of 15-2. Aljamaaheer was second at 8-1 with Gregorian (16-1) third.
“I was going very well,” jockey O’Brien told Channel 4 television after accelerating to victory. “I just went into the gap. I was going exceptionally well. He’s a very good horse.”
Animal Kingdom, the 5-4 favorite ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Maryland-based Englishman Graham Motion, finished almost last of the 13 runners after his first straight-mile contest. The race, on turf, carried a top prize of 198,000 pounds ($310,000).
“He went up to the start perfectly well and he came out of the gates fine,” Velazquez said. “He was pulling pretty strong, and when I let him go he didn’t have it. There were no signs early and he was there for me, but he wasn’t when I needed him. I’m very disappointed for him.”
In March, Animal Kingdom won the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race. The five-year-old American-bred colt was the first Kentucky Derby winner to compete at Royal Ascot since Omaha 77 years ago.
Barry Irwin’s Team Valor, which bred Animal Kingdom, sold a majority interest in him to John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud in Australia. After more than $8 million in lifetime winnings, the horse is now set to retire from racing and begin his stud career there in September.
Among other races today, Dawn Approach (5-4 favorite) won the St. James’s Palace Stakes after flopping in the Epsom Derby. Sole Power (8-1) won the King’s Stand Stakes sprint, and trainer O’Brien’s War Command (20-1) took the Coventry Stakes.
The five-day Royal Ascot meeting, west of London, is the richest in the U.K. with prize money of 5 million pounds. Queen Elizabeth II and other members of Britain’s Royal Family were present today.
There was a minute’s silence before racing in honor of Henry Cecil, who died last week at age 70. He trained a record 75 winners at the royal meeting.