I like this one!

I really like the Nicholas Godfrey notes from the Racing Post in England:

Animal Kingdom wins Kentucky Derby

Report: USA, Saturday

Churchill Downs: Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) 1m2f, dirt, 3yo

ANIMAL KINGDOM, a near 21-1 shot trained by English-born Graham Motion, roared down the stretch to win the 137th Kentucky Derby on Saturday in front of a record crowd at Churchill Downs.

Irish contender Master Of Hounds performed with credit for Aidan O’Brien, staying on to be fifth, about six lengths off the winner.

Animal Kingdom, who had never run on dirt before in four previous outings, ran out an emphatic winner under John Velazquez in the colours of syndicate ownership group Team Valor.

A son of top Brazilian-bred miler Leroidesanimaux, he arrived on the scene with a powerful charge down the stretch to score by two and three-quarter lengths over Nehro, with Mucho Macho Man taking third.

The favourite Dialed In finished only eighth after trailing the entire field until well after halfway, while Rosie Napravnik came ninth on Pants On Fire as the rider attempted to become the first woman to win America’s most celebrated race.

The result was tinged with irony, as both trainer and jockey had suffered the disappointment of losing the horses they had expected to be their number one contenders in the week before the race.

Velazquez was booked to ride Uncle Mo for his main employer Todd Pletcher until the two-year-old champion was finally ruled out on Friday morning. Motion also trains Toby’s Corner, who beat Uncle Mo in the Wood Memorial and was a leading Derby fancy until he, too, was ruled out of contention owing to a hind-leg injury.

Cambridge-born Motion, whose father Michael was former US representative for sale company Tattersalls, had been close to tears earlier this week when discussing the absence of Toby’s Corner.

“It’s been pretty emotional but this is just extraordinary,” said Motion, 46. “The horse was just so powerful today -he’s just a magnificent animal but obviously I wasn’t sure he would handle the switch over to dirt. He’s an amazing horse.”

Jockey Robby Albarado would have every right to be kicking the cat tonight as he was due to partner Animal Kingdom until breaking his nose in a fall on Wednesday.

Although Albarado was in action on Saturday’s card, riding Sassy Image to win a Grade 1 contest, he was still jocked off by owners Team Valor in favour of Velazquez.

The latter was suitably humble after riding the first Kentucky Derby winner of a glittering career.

“Words cannot describe how you feel but I do feel really bad for Robby, winning the Derby when he was here,” he said. “I know he got hurt but I really hope he was there riding this with me.

“I didn’t think he was coming to ride today so I did speak to him – the only thing he said to me was ‘you’re riding a good horse’.”

Velazquez has been no stranger to Kentucky Derby misfortune himself, having been associated with ante-post favourites who have gone wrong in each of the last three seasons in Eskendereya, Quality Road and Uncle Mo.

“I guess it was meant to be – things happen for a reason,” said Velazquez. “A

a lot of people say to me that I’ve had a lot of bad luck in the Derby, three years back to back.

“It was such a disappointment to lose Uncle Mo but I’m glad I got on the good side of it after having three horses in three years who have been scratched. All of a sudden I get on this horse but you definitely feel bad for Robby.

“This business is a rollercoaster and I’ve been on the other end as well. But I told Robby, ‘don’t worry if I win this race, I’m going to take care of you’.”{jcomments on}

 

 

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