Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Animal Kingdom

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:, 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!

Monday, June 17, 2013


The 139th Kentucky Derby did not necessarily go the way it was expected to go for Verrazano, who had been one of the hot horses leading up to the First Saturday In May. Verrazano ended up being one of the victims of the hot pace set by eventual Belmont Stakes winner, Palace Malice, and finished a disappointing 14th in the race. In fact, he never really ended up being much of a factor at Churchill Downs, which also seemed to be part of the problem, since the track came up wet and sticky on Derby Day.

Well, this weekend, Verrazano rebounded nicely off that disappointment and scored an emphatic win in the Grade 3 Pegasus this Sunday at Monmouth Park. Verrazano took the lead in the race right out of the gate and never looked back, eventually recording a nearly ten-length victory. Of course, part of that result came because Itsmyluckyday, another Derby fizzler, was pulled up by jockey Mike Smith just as he was moving to challenge Verrazano's lead. The hope is that Itsmyluckyday's injury won't be a serious one. Even with that, you cannot discount Verrazano's win in the Pegasus, because he did what he was expected to do and win, while essentially controlling every aspect of the race. It was a dominating performance and hopefully, will be a large springboard to getting Verrazano back into the three-year-old picture this summer.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has already said that he is planning on Verrazano pointing to the next big three-year-old event at Monmouth Park, the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Haskell Invitational on July 28. The Haskell is always the highlight of the summer on the Jersey Shore and this year's edition should prove to be another classic, especially with the inclusion of a rejuvenated Verrazano. For a video of the Pegasus, click on this link:

Be sure to check out my Twitter page: @They_Are_Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!