Third stakeswinner for Animal Kingdom

It’s been a progressive weekend in both hemispheres for Animal Kingdom, thanks to his third stakeswinner, an impressive debut winner, a repeat winner and a Grade 2 placegetter.

His 2YO son Untamed Domain, already a winner and Grade 3-placed, started second favourite for the $US200,000 Summer S. G2 over one mile on turf at Woodbine on Sunday. The favourite Hemp Hemp Hooray looked likely to take the race out until Untamed Domain rallied late to catch him just short of the line.

The race is a Win & You’re In qualifier for the  $US1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf G1 in November. 

Watch Untamed Domain win the Woodbine Summer S. G2.

Bred by Clearsky Farms, Untamed Domain is prepared by Animal Kingdom’s trainer Graham Motion for West Point Thoroughbreds. The colt is the fourth and best winner out of the stakes-winning mare Ciao (by Roberto’s son Lear Fan), a grand-daughter of French Group 1 winner Smuggly.

Untamed Domain completed a Woodbine weekend double for Animal Kingdom, following the five-length debut success of 2YO filly Grace And Dignity in a six-furlong maiden  on Saturday. She is the fourth winner from Animal Kingdom’s first Northern Hemisphere crop. 

Watch Grace And Dignity win on debut at Woodbine.

Grace And Dignity’s dam is 7-time winner Precision Farming, by Mr. Prospector’s son Smart Strike, from the family of Grade 2 winners Dream About and Deeply Undervalued. Go a little further back in the pedigree, and up pops Secret Verdict, the fifth dam of Champion Sire Snitzel. 

Meanwhile in Australia, the Darley home-bred 3YO Animalia posted his second win over 1600 metres at Newcastle on Friday. His dam is the grand producer Hold To Ransom (by Red Ransom), whose earlier progeny include Group 3 winner Retrieve and Listed winners Abduction and Reparations. 

Watch Animalia win at Newcastle.

Animal Kingdom, currently serving his fourth Australian book of mares at Arrowfield, is also the sire of US stakeswinnerContinental Divide and the filly Sunny Skies, third in the Churchill Downs Pocahontas S. G2, a few hours after Grace And Dignity’s success.

The Dubai World Cup champion’s other Australian winners are TDN Rising Star Earth Angel, Lord Cecil (also Group-placed at two), Barbary, Royal Phoenix and Platinum.

Animal Kingdom's first stakeswinner

Animal Kingdom’s US-bred daughter Sunny Skies has become his first stakeswinner with a decisive victory at Churchill Downs on Friday evening.

A thunderstorm made the skies anything but sunny, and the subsequent 50-minute delay made the six-furlong $US100,000 Debutante S. LR for 2YO fillies more than usually testing. However, Sunny Skies  took it all in her stride, taking up an early lead alongside Rockin’ Royalty and skipping clear in the straight to hold off Upset Brewing’s late challenge by 1.75 lengths, with Waki Patriot third.

Watch Sunny Skies win the Churchill Downs Debutante S. LR (TDN Race Replay)

Sunny Skies gave Animal Kingdom the perfect start to his northern hemisphere stud career when she won her Keeneland debut by nine lengths on 27 April. Bred and raced by Nancy Polk’s Normandy Farm, Sunny Skies is out of the unraced Marquetry mare Skyscape, and is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Sky Cape. 

Animal Kingdom’s first Australian 2YOs have given him a good start “downunder” with 12 of his 16 runners  weighing in this season. His five winners include Group 3-placed winner Lord Cecil, Flemington winner Royal Phoenix and TDN Rising Star Earth Angel, who has major Spring targets on her 2017/18 agenda.

Animal Kingdom has completed his fourth northern hemisphere season at Darley America and returns to Arrowfield where he will be available this Spring at a fee of $27,500 inc. GST.

Animal Kingdom's Derby still exceptional

None of the four Kentucky Derby winners since Animal Kingdom’s imperious 2011 victory have matched either the actual distance he ran, or his exceptional time for the final quarter-mile.

This is revealed by the Trakus data compiled at Churchill Downs for each of the last five Derbys, won by Animal Kingdom, I’ll Have Another, Orb, California Chrome and American Pharaoh.

Animal Kingdom covered 6,760 feet in the Derby, after settling off the rail during the race and swinging wide to claim the lead in the straight. That’s 160 feet or about 50 metres further than the official distance of 10 furlongs (2000m).

Nonetheless, Animal Kingdom ran a fast overall time of 2.02.04 with his last quarter-mile (about 400 metres) in 23.84 seconds  – 2.68 seconds faster than the Zayat family’s outstanding colt. The next-fastest last quarter-mile in the past five years was the 25.80 seconds posted by I’ll Have Another in 2012, and he covered 80 feet less during the race than Animal Kingdom had done a year earlier.

The Churchill Downs track was rated fast in 2011, 2012, 2014 & 2015, and only Orb in 2013 had to deal with a surface rated “sloppy”.

Eighteen months after the Derby Animal Kingdom produced another extraordinary finish when he returned from a long break after injury to run second in the Santa Anita Breeders’ Cup Mile G1 on turf, won by Wise Dan in the near world record time of 1:31.78.

In March 2013 his championship acceleration took Animal Kingdom to a famous victory in the Dubai World Cup G1, held on Meydan’s tapeta surface. This time, however, he produced sensational mid-race sectionals, clocking 23.20 for the 1600-1200m (the single fastest split in the whole race) and 23.60  from 1200-800m.

Furthermore, Animal Kingdom travelled 17 metres further than runner-up Red Cadeaux,. Adjusting the final winning margin of two lengths for this extra distance suggests that Animal Kingdom was more than 8 lengths better at Meydan than Red Cadeaux.

The subsequent Group 1 form of the horses behind Animal Kingdom in Dubai has firmly franked his performance.

Red Cadeaux has since run magnificent seconds to Protectionist in the 2013 VRC Melbourne Cup G1 and behind Criterion in the 2015 ATC Queen Elizabeth S. G1. Planteur (3rd) was second in the Longchamp Prix d’Ispahan at his next start, while Side Glance (4th) was subsequently third in the 2013 Arlington Million and won the VRC L.K.S. MacKinnon Stakes.

African Story (5th) returned to Meydan to win the 2014 Dubai World Cup; Meandre (6th) won the 2013 Cologne Preis von Europa; Hunter’s Light (7th) won the 2015 Meydan Jebel Hatta S.; and by the end of 2013 champion US mare Royal Delta (10th) had boosted her stellar record with her fifth & sixth Grade 1 successes and her third Eclipse Award.

As Trakus analyst Pat Cummings wrote afterwards, “Let there be no doubt that Animal Kingdom’s race in the Dubai World Cup was phenomenal.”