Jockeyed by a man who’d never ridden it in a race, Animal Kingdom made a late charge Saturday to win the 137th edition of the Kentucky Derby.
The colt’s owners tapped John Velazquez to ride Animal Kingdom earlier this week, replacing jockey Robby Albarado after he got hurt while riding another horse.
Velazquez is a racing veteran, but his best finish in 12 previous Kentucky Derby tries had been second in 2001. He had been slated to ride this year’s pre-race favorite, Uncle Mo, until that horse was forced out after developing a gastrointestinal illness.
“It was a loss for Robby, and a win for me,” a bittersweet Velazquez told NBC in an interview broadcast throughout Churchill Downs after the race. “I’m very proud (of Animal Kingdom).”
The colt entered the Derby at 20-1 odds, starting from the outside from the No. 16 gate. It stayed in the back of the pack — behind front-runner Shackleford, which ended up in fourth — before pushing ahead around the final turn to cruise to a clear victory. The Kentucky-bred 3-year-old had run only a handful of races prior to Saturday, none of them on dirt.
“He’s just kind of a magnificent animal,” said Graham Motion, the trainer for Animal Kingdom. “This is an amazing horse, a very special horse.”
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Article courtesy cnn.com