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.

First American winner for Animal Kingdom

The name of Animal Kingdom’s first US starter and winner, 2YO filly Sunny Skies, may well turn out to be an accurate forecast of the young sire’s prospects as he begins to build momentum with his first crop runners in both hemispheres. 

Smart showings at a series of local breezes ensured strong betting support for Sunny Skies when she lined up over 4.5 furlongs (900 metres) at Keeneland on Thursday and she duly delivered, taking an early lead and opening up in the home straight to score an unpressured nine-length victory.

Watch Sunny Skies win on debut at Keeneland. (Race replay courtesy of TDN)

A daughter of the unraced mare Skyscape (by Marquetry), Sunny Skies is a half-sister to Grade 2 winner Sky Cape and is trained by Kenny McPeek for owner-breeder Nancy Polk’s Normandy Farm. 

It’s been a good week for Animal Kingdom who posted his third Australian winner, after Earth Angel & Platinum, when the Paul Messara-trained Arrowfield 2YO gelding Lord Cecil (ex Lady Zabelia by Zabeel) won his debut at Muswellbrook on 21 April.

He also added a couple of new placegetters when Table Mountain (ex Aliyana Tilde by Snitzel) and Barbary (ex Amatista by Scenic) filled the placings in a juvenile handicap at Wyong on 27 April.