A convincing victory by 2YO colt Continental Divide in Sunday’s Del Mar $US100,000 Graduation Stakes has given Animal Kingdom his second winner of a Stakes race from 11 first-crop US runners.
The Dubai World Cup & Kentucky Derby winner now holds sixth spot on the US First Crop Sires’ premiership with earnings of $US241,328. (Source: US BloodHorse)
At only his second start, Continental Divide jumped smartly and settled to race mid-field until the home turn he swept past his rivals for an easy win, almost a length ahead of Smokem, who had beaten him on his 21 July debut.
The colt’s performance, running the 5.5 furlongs (~1100 metres) in 1:05.27, impressed his trainer Jim Cassidy. “He wants to go farther. For him to go five-and-a-half, you try him out of his element and he still wins.”
Hall of Fame jockey Victor Espinoza said he was confident Continental Divide could handle sitting outside six horses on the backstretch and three horses on the turn.
“That was a nice move, a really nice move. He can do that. He’s talented.”
Owned by former technology executive Deron Pearson, Continental Divide was bought from the Barretts May Sale of 2YOs in training at Del Mar for $US245,000, the top price at the Sale.
The bay colt was bred in California by PT Syndicate #1 LLC and is the third winner out of stakes-placed mare Bandora (by Northern Dancer’s son Dixieland Band). Other family members include US Grade 1 winner Love Theway Youare and Grade 2 winners Tower Of Texas and Street Sense, all descended from the mid-1980s dual Grade 1 winner Sabin.
Continental Divide is the third winner from Animal Kingdom’s first northern hemisphere crop, after Sunny Skies, winner of the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs, and Untamed Domain, who scored on turf at Saratoga on 22 July.
Animal Kingdom has also gained favourable attention in Australia with six juvenile winners last season: TDN Rising Star Earth Angel, Group 3-placed Lord Cecil, Flemington winner Royal Phoenix, Barbary, Platinum and Animalia, who defeated older horses to break his maiden on 20 July.
Animal Kingdom returns this Spring to serve his fourth Australian book of mares at Arrowfield.