Kentucky Derby victory for Team Valor

A record crowd of nearly 165,000 racegoers cheered Animal Kingdom home to a convincing victory in the G1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Animal Kingdom (3c Leroidesanimaux – Dalicia by Acatenango) is trained by Graham Motion for Team Valor and he went into the classic on the back of a G3 victory in the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.

Animal Kingdom settled midfield for replacement rider John Velazquez before angling to the centre of the track in the straight.  The chestnut sprinted past the leaders to win by nearly three lengths from Nehro (Mineshaft) and Macho Macho Man (Macho Uno).

“I was so impressed with how he handled everything,” Motion said.  “We just felt the most important thing about this race was having a clean trip and that’s how it worked out.”

Animal Kingdom is by Brazilian-bred sire Leroidesanimaux (Candy Stripes) who stands at Stonewall Farm in Florida.  He was a G1 winner of the Atto Mile and Citation Handicap and was also runner-up to Artie Shiller in the 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile.

The Derby winner is the first foal out of the German-bred G3 winner Dalicia.  

Team Valor owner Barry Irwin purchased the mare for 400,000 euros at a Baden-Baden Sale in October 2005.  He intended to send her to Kingmambo but the Lane’s End Farm champion was taken out of service after a back injury and Leroidesanimaux was the next choice.

Irwin entered Animal Kingdom for the 2009 Keeneland September yearling sale to dissolve a partnership with Stonewall Farm and he bought them out for $100,000.  “He was a big, good looking horse at the sales,” Irwin recalled.  “I thought he would develop more and look even better.”

So does his bank balance.  Animal Kingdom’s share of the Kentucky Derby prizemoney boosted his earnings to $1.73 million and his stud value has sky-rocketed into the stratosphere.

Shadai Stud are also counting the benefits of his victory at Churchill Downs.  The Yoshida family bought Dalicia for 230,000gns at the 2009 Tattersalls Sale when she was carrying a colt by Mr Greeley.