The final start of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom's, career did not go the way everyone thought it might. His final performance came at Royal Ascot in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes and he rumbled home 11th of thirteen in the field for a disappointing period to what has been an outstanding career.
If you watch the replay of the race, which is available here: http://www.drf.com/news/royal-ascot-animal-kingdom-soundly-defeated-queen-anne, Animal Kingdom appeared to be quite headstrong early on under jockey John Velazquez, who had to take a firm hold of the horse while settling him into stride. With just under two furlongs to go, Animal Kingdom had given way and dropped right out of contention while Declaration Of War went on with it under Joseph O'Brien to score a nifty win. In watching the race, it just seems that Animal Kingdom never got comfortable for whatever reason (a hot pace, the turf course, or his own inability to settle) and was spent very early on.
So, Animal Kingdom's career comes to an end with just one of two non-top three finishes he will have on his record (the other being the 2011 Belmont Stakes, where he was seriously compromised at the start). I believe that this inglorious end is just a blip on the overall resume' though. He has been brilliant nearly every time he went to the post and he did it on all the different surfaces available these days. He scored his Derby win over the conventional dirt at Churchill Downs. He dominated the field earlier this year in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup over Tapeta at Meydan. He also put forth a tremendous effort over the grass while falling short in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Mile at Santa Anita last fall. Animal Kingdom always gave his utmost, which is usually all you can ask of any champion. His career ended with a fizzle, but don't ever let that be your lasting image of him. The proper image of Animal Kingdom is of his lasting greatness. Hopefully, that greatness will be passed on to his progeny, both in Australia and North America.
Be sure to check out my Twitter page: @They_Are_Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!