Animal Kingdom filly rules on debut

Animal Kingdom’s 3YO daughter – and Arrowfield Magic Millions graduate – I Am Queen streeted a strong maiden field by 4.3 lengths on debut in New Zealand on Saturday. 

The chestnut filly started favourite after two good trial placings and took up the running alongside Excaliffraaj after jumping well from gate 2. Excaliffraaj ran off on the turn but I Am Queen held her line, quickened up sharply when asked by jockey Danielle Johnson and raced away to win in a time of 58.39 for the 1000-metre journey. 

Watch I Am Queen win on debut at Taupo, NZ.

I Am Queen is the fourth foal and third winner out of the very good US racemare Cat By The Tale (by Tale of the Cat) and is trained by Stephen Marsh who said, “She’s not a 1000-metre horse, but she showed a good turn of foot and she won really well in the end….she’ll be better in the Autumn.”

The filly’s Waikato owner Roger Blunt bought the Arrowfield & Cloros Bloodstock-bred filly for $310,000 at the 2016 Magic Millions Sale and he was naturally delighted with her first-up success. 

“She showed ability from the start, but we’ve been patient with her and she did well, it’s been a great day at the races!

“We like Animal Kingdom, and she’s so similar to him, she has a lovely nature.” 

This tallies with the observations of Animal Kingdom’s trainer Graham Motion about the yearling I Am Queen, which he reported in his sale blog for Thoroughbred Daily News at the time: “[She] is very athletic and attractive, with a lovely walk and a real presence about her. I’ve had photos taken with her a few times now and she handles it all very well. She just has a really nice way about her.” 

A Magic Millions Guineas campaign was derailed by wet Spring weather in New Zealand, but Roger Blunt hopes I Am Queen will justify a trip back cross the Tasman at some stage during her career. In the meantime, New Zealand’s Filly of the Year series offers tempting possibilities.  

I Am Queen is the 13th winner from Animal Kingdom’s first Australian crop which also includes the Group-placed pair Peaceful State and Lord Cecil, recent winners White Boots and Seductive Miss, and Miss Finland’s debut-winning daughter Earth Angel, now preparing for an Autumn campaign.

The Kentucky Derby winner’s first US crop has produced 10 juvenile winners headed by Grade 2 winner and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf G1 runner-up Untamed Domain, and Listed winners Continental Divide & Sunny Skies. 

There are 11 yearlings by Animal Kingdom on offer at the 2018 Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, with six colts and 3 fillies in Arrowfield’s consignment.

Also in the Stud’s barn at Magic Millions will be Lot 591, the Redoute’s Choice-Cat by the Tale colt, a full brother to the Group-placed city winners Raphael’s Cat and Tale of Choice. Cat by the Tale has a 2YO filly named Keiai Tsubaki with Gerald Ryan, a filly foal by Real Impact and a positive test to Maurice. 

Animal Kingdom's first Group 1 performer

It’s been a progressive fortnight for second season sire Animal Kingdom, with three new winners in Australia and his first Group 1 performer in the United States.

Untamed Domain, already a Grade 2 winner this northern summer, made a big impression when second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf G1 on 3 November, after coming from the back of the pack and running 68 feet further than the winner Mendelssohn.

Sent out by Animal Kingdom’s trainer Graham Motion, Untamed Domain, out of two-time stakeswinner Ciao (by Lear Fan), is raced by West Point Thoroughbreds who have every reason to look forward to plenty more success with him. 

Untamed Domain heads a group of seven winners that have driven Animal Kingdom’s rise to third position on the US First Crop Sires’ list. with prizemoney of $US803,254. 

Back in Australia this week, two Arrowfield graduates from Animal Kingdom’s first Southern Hemisphere crop won successive races at Ballarat.  

First-up was Peaceful State who fought out the finish of the 1400-metre maiden with his stablemate Captain Henry, leaving six lengths of daylight back to the third horse.

Watch Peaceful State win at Ballarat.

Peaceful State is the last foal of Weekend Beauty (by Helissio), celebrated as the dam of Horse of the Year Weekend Hussler, and he is trained by Darren Weir for Katsumi Yoshida, who bred him with Arrowfield. The colt’s likely next assignment will be the $250,000 Sandown Guineas G2 on 18 November.

In the next race, Roar (ex Line Honours by Hussonet)  led all the way and proved too strong over 1600 metres, winning by a length from Pollinator & Bradbury.

Watch Roar win at Ballarat.

Roar (ex Line Honours by Hussonet) was a $200,000 purchase for Champion Thoroughbreds & Matchem Genetics from Arrowfield’s 2016 Magic Millions draft. He is trained by Robert Smerdon who said after the win, “[Roar] has really improved with blinkers and he enjoyed getting out to 1600m today…he will only get better the further he goes.” 

A couple of promising placegetters look close to breakthrough wins. Team Valor’s 3YO filly Oleksandra was third at Randwick on Tuesday, and Godolphin’s 2YO colt Rheingau was third on debut at Rosehill on Saturday.

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.

Quality wins by Animal Kingdom 2YOs

As Arrowfield prepares to welcome Animal Kingdom back for the 2017 season, excitement is growing about his future as a sire, thanks to six first-crop winners in Australia and two, including a Listed winner, in the United States.

His latest winners, one in each hemisphere in the past week, have advertised his prospects with quality maiden victories for leading stables.

The second day of Saratoga’s famous Summer Meet, on 22 July, brought up Animal Kngdom’s second winner from his first five US runners. 2YO colt Untamed Domain joined Animal Kingdom’s Australian daughter Earth Angel as a TDN Rising Star when he overcame a mid-race hold-up to power home for a stylish win over 8.5 furlongs on turf.

Watch Untamed Domain win at Saratoga. (courtesy of TDN)

Fourth at his debut on 2 July, Untamed Domain is in the care of his sire’s trainer, Graham Motion and is raced by West Point Thoroughbreds, which purchased him from the 2016 Keeneland September Sale for $US90,000.

Motion, who visited Australia in January 2016 to see Animal Kingdom’s first yearlings sold at Magic Millions, said, “I’m so impressed with Untamed Domain who got stopped in his tracks three furlongs out and won for fun.

“He showed his Dad’s turn of foot and seems to have his calm demeanour. I hope to run him back in the Grade 3 With Anticipation later in the meet which is a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.”

The $US150,000 With Anticipation Stakes G3, also run over 8.5 furlongs on turf, will be held on Wednesday 30 August.

Untamed Domain’s stakes-winning dam Ciao (by Roberto’s son Lear Fan) is descended from French Group 1 winner Smuggly whose daughters have been successful producers in Japan, South Africa and Brazil as well as North America.

Animal Kingdom has already sired his first US stakeswinner, the Ken McPeek-trained filly Sunny Skies who followed up her April debut win with success in the Debutante S. LR at Churchill Downs on 30 June.

Godolphin’s 2YO gelding Animalia tackled 1600 metres at Gosford on 20 July and gave those who backed him into favouritism no worries at all as he began sharply, took an easy sit behind Dashing Special and sprinted clear to win by 7.5 lengths.

Watch Animalia win at Gosford.

Animalia is the sixth winner left by Royal Ascot stakeswinner Hold To Ransom (by Red Ransom), already the dam of Group winner Retrieve and Listed winners Reparations & Abduction. This is also the family of Prince Bishop who, like Animal Kingdom, won the Dubai World Cup G1.

Animal Kingdom’s other Australian winners this season include Flemington winner Royal Phoenix, Earth Angel (also fourth in the ATC Fernhill S. LR), and Group 3-placed Lord Cecil.

Animal Kingdom's jockey & trainer to visit Magic Millions

Champion American jockey Johnny Velazquez and leading US trainer Graham Motion had starring roles in Animal Kingdom’s sensational 2011 Kentucky Derby victory. Now they’re coming to Australia to see his first yearlings at next month’s Magic Millions Gold Coast Sale, and Velazquez will be available for rides on Jeep Magic Millions Gold Coast Raceday, Saturday 9 January.

Puerto Rico-born Velazquez and English native Motion have both forged remarkable careers in American racing.

Velazquez, pictured left, affectionately known as “Johnny V”, is the Leading All-Time US Money-winning rider, a two-time Eclipse Award winner, and a member of the US Racing Hall of Fame.  In 2015 alone he has ridden almost 200 winners for earnings of $US20 million including the Grade 1 Cigar Mile last Saturday aboard Tonalist.

Motion, pictured right, was nurtured in English racing as the son of bloodstock agent Michael and assistant trainer Jo, but the family moved in 1980 to the United States where Motion is based at Herringswell Stables in Maryland. 

Individually, Velazquez and Motion have been associated with many outstanding performers, including US Horse of the Year Wise Dan, Champions Speightstown, Lemon Drop Kid & Main Sequence, Breeders’ Cup winners Better Talk Now, Da Hoss & Shared Account and recent Grade 1 winner Photo Call.

Paradoxically, it took a horse with a pedigree more European than American to elevate them both to the special level of fame reserved for history-making Kentucky Derby winners.  

Animal Kingdom was the first horse in 137 years to win the Derby at his first start on dirt – in fact, Motion confirmed a start only after the charismatic colt worked brilliantly at Churchill Downs a week before the race.  Velazquez, left without a ride when Uncle Mo went amiss, piloted Animal Kingdom to a spectacular 2.75-length victory, posting the fastest last half-mile since Secretariat 38 years earlier.

Injury derailed Animal Kingdom’s 4YO career until a daring first-up tilt at the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile G1 on turf at Santa Anita where he flew home from an impossible position to run second to Wise Dan in track record time of 1:31.78. That performance clinched both Arrowfield Stud’s purchase of a majority interest in Animal Kingdom and a challenge for the $US10 million Dubai World Cup G1, on the artificial tapeta surface.  At Meydan, Animal Kingdom simply dominated his eleven top-class rivals – collectively the winners of 24 Group 1 races in eight countries.

After that victory, Animal Kingdom was rated the best entire on the World Thoroughbred Rankings, with a figure of 126.
Retired to stud in 2013, Animal Kingdom is represented in the 2016 Magic Millions Gold Coast catalogue by eight yearlings, seven of them in the Arrowfield draft. They include a daughter of Gr2 winner Cat By The Tale, a grandson of champion filly Alinghi, and a half-sister to Wild Rain, one of five stakeswinners from the Stud’s 2013 Magic Millions consignment.

As well as attending the Sale and the Magic Millions raceday on Saturday 9 January, Motion and Velazquez will visit Arrowfield and will be available for media interviews from Wednesday 6 January 2016.