How impressive was Animal Kingdom?

Pat Cummings from digital sports information company Trakus analyses Animal Kingdom’s performance in last Saturday’s Dubai World Cup G1.

This article is published here with the permission of Trakus and Thoroughbred Daily News .

How impressive was Animal Kingdom?

Quite. The first dual Kentucky Derby/Dubai World Cup winner since Silver Charm capped the feat in 1998, Animal Kingdom plotted a wide, but clear trip from an outside barrier draw. His final winning margin of two lengths was misleadingly cozy. At the finish, Animal Kingdom traveled 17 meters more than Red Cadeaux, closing fast at the rail. Covering an extra 17 meters is the equivalent of approximately 6.5 lengths of added ground traveled. Adjusting the final margin of victory for this ground coverage suggests that the Graham Motion-trainee was more than eight lengths better than rail-skimming Red Cadeaux. Given several days to absorb the data, it seems appropriate to suggest Animal Kingdom ran the best race of his life to date.

Pictured: The Dubai World Cup trophy presentation, from left: HH Sheikh Mohammed, Ruler of Dubai, jockey Joel Rosario, Arrowfield’s John Messara & Team Valor’s Barry Irwin. (PHOTO: Jon Siegel)

One added way to review the data from the Dubai World Cup is to compare the average speeds of horses. Horses asked to plot wider courses have to run faster to maintain their position. If four horses were lined across the course and began to corner, in order for a widely-planted horse to hold its position, they absolutely must run faster than a horse to its inside. Animal Kingdom never lost position in running, expending more energy with the highest cruising speed in running.

After 1,200 meters of the Dubai World Cup, here is the position of each horse, in order, with their average speed to this point in the race:

Royal Delta – 59.5 kph

Animal Kingdom – 59.7 kph

Side Glance – 59.1 kph

Hunter?s Light – 59.0 kph

Meandre – 59.0 kph

Dullahan – 58.9 kph

Treasure Beach – 58.5 kph

Planteur – 58.7 kph

Red Cadeaux – 58.4 kph

Kassiano – 58.5 kph

African Story – 58.6 kph

Capponi – 58.0 kph

Following these first six furlongs, Animal Kingdom had traveled seven meters (about 2 lengths) more than leader Royal Delta, and 11 meters (about 4 lengths) more than Red Cadeaux.

At the finish, Animal Kingdom was still in control, running the second fastest final 100 meters behind only Red Cadeaux’s time, and averaging 0.7 kph more than that rival over the course of the race. Overall, Animal Kingdom’s individual sectional times are massively impressive, running 0.33 seconds faster in his fifth 400-meter segment than the fourth segment, and clocking the single fastest split in the race, from the 1600m pole to the 1200m pole in :23.20 seconds. Once Joel Rosario recognized that neither Planteur, who made all the running in his previous race, nor African Story, stretching-out off mid-pack trips in one-turn races, were interested in running forward, Rosario seized the initiative and prompted the obvious front-runner in Royal Delta. Take note of Animal Kingdom’s sectional times below (North American readers should note that race-timing in the UAE, and much of the world, begins with an electric pulse tied to the starter’s gate-opening mechanism, yielding the slow, in appearance, opening quarter).

Animal Kingdom’s Dubai World Cup Sectional Times

400m: 26.98

800m: 23.20

1200m: 23.60

1600m: 24.88

2000m: 24.55

While the entire final 400m segment of the race is run in the home stretch, given Animal Kingdom’s earlier fractions, his ability to stay on really puts this performance into magnificent territory. In three previous runnings of this race at Meydan, Gloria De Campeao walked slow and free on the lead, Victoire Pisa‘s fastest 400m segment was his last after he made a last-to-first backstretch move into a mind-bogglingly slow pace, and Monterosso had the pleasure of running into the fastest of the four early paces in the running of the race on Tapeta.

Over the history of all-weather racing at Meydan, 38 races out of 51 at 1,200 meters were faster than the 2013 Dubai Golden Shaheen, 46 races out of 49 at 1,900 meters were faster than the 2013 UAE Derby, and 59 out of 65 races at 1,600 meters were faster than the 2013 Godolphin Mile. The all-weather surface at Meydan has shown a tendency to quicken slightly as temperatures cooled in the desert, a phenomenon experienced in past years. The sun was setting as the Derby ran, while it was dark during the Golden Shaheen. Still, there was no cold front that swooped in and provided a wildly different course roughly two hours after the Golden Shaheen: let there be no doubt that Animal Kingdom’s race in the Dubai World Cup was phenomenal. Overall, this year’s edition ranks as the fifth fastest from 31 at the distance, significantly faster than the trends from earlier races on the night.

Wherever Animal Kingdom goes from here, there is no doubting his performance in the 2013 Dubai World Cup will rank as one of his most impressive.

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