The 137th running of the Kentucky Derby went down on Saturday afternoon and with a record crowd of over 160,000 people in attendance at Churchill Downs in Louisville, they were treated to a race of 19 horses and in the end it was John Velasquez aboard Animal Kingdom who would win the Run For The Roses.
Velasquez was originally supposed to be the jockey for one of the front runners in Uncle Mo but Mo was scratched from the Derby on Friday. This led to Velasquez getting the mount for Animal Kingdom and in the end was able to take the 20-1 horse to the victory.
Robby Albrado was originally tabbed to ride Animal Kingdom but he too fell to injury and that is what opened up the ride for Velasquez. It was the first time that Animal Kingdom had ever ridden on a dirt course but you could have told it by his winning performance.
Animal Kingdom had been a stud on the synthetic and turf courses this spring which was evident by his win in the Spiral Stakes at Churchill's sister track, Turfway Park. Kingdom came out of the gate slow but coming around the final turn seen him charge and give the horse a three length win in a time of 2 minutes and 2 seconds. Trainer Graham Motion was the winner trainer of Animal Kingdom.
This now sets up the talk for a Triple Crown winner and Animal Kingdom will certainly try and do that as the second race in the Triple Crown goes down at Pimilco Raceway in Baltimore, Maryland on May 21st with the running of the Preakness Stakes. While there has not been any early numbers released as a favorite for that race, it is pretty much certain that Animal Kingdom will be sitting towards the top of the odds list.
If Animal Kingdom's performance from Saturday at the Kentucky Derby is any indication, there is a good chance that the talk of Triple Crown winner will alive and well when it comes time to run the Belmont Stakes on June 11th.