Animal Kingdom, who started the Derby with 20-1 odds, made a big move in the home stretch to finish nearly 3 lengths ahead of the field. Nehro, who made a valiant run from behind, came in second and Mucho Macho Man ran a respectable third.
The colt was a surprise in more ways than one — he’d had only four career starts (the only previous winner so lightly raced was Exterminator in 1918) and he’d never raced on dirt.
The jockey was a surprise, too. Johnny Velasquez was slated to ride favorite Uncle Mo (who was scratched yesterday) picked up the ride when regular rider Robby Albarado was injured earlier this week. How terrible would you feel if you got injured before your Derby ride and then the horse won? It has always amazed me that jockeys riding in the Derby often ride several races earlier in the day. For Velasquez, this ride was a long time coming. This was the third year running that he had been on tap to ride the favorites only to have them scratched at the last minute.
Animal Kingdom, who was bred by Team Valinor, has interesting breeding. His sire was the turf star Leroidesanimaux. So far, Animal Kingdom has excelled on poytrack, turf and now dirt. Pretty impressive!
Here’s the race: