By Mint Julep

Animal Kingdom Before and Beyond the Kentucky Derby

animal kingdom kentucky derby winner 2011

Join the exciting journey of Animal Kingdom, from his early days as a young horse to his triumphant wins on the racetrack. Experience his thrilling victories at prestigious races like the Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup, showcasing his extraordinary talent as a Thoroughbred racehorse with Brazilian and European bloodlines. See how he excelled on various surfaces, displaying versatility in competition.

Witness Animal Kingdom’s determination as he overcomes injuries and makes successful comebacks, ultimately becoming a prominent stallion at JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station. Celebrate his international triumphs outside of America and appreciate the lasting impact he has made in horse racing history through unforgettable performances that captured hearts around the world.

Early Life and Family Background

Born on March 20, 2008, in the United States, Animal Kingdom comes from a prestigious lineage that mixes Brazilian and European bloodlines. His father, Leroidesanimaux – also known as the “King of the animals” in French – hails from Brazil with some European roots. On his mother’s side is Dalicia, a mare bred in Germany who added her own special heritage to Animal Kingdom’s exceptional genes.

Animal Kingdom was raised by Team Valor racing stable and Denali Stud in Paris, Kentucky. This upbringing provided him with a strong foundation for his future success on the racetrack. Bred for greatness and nurtured carefully since birth, this champion American Thoroughbred racehorse began showing signs of brilliance early on. With such esteemed parents guiding him forward, it came as no surprise when he started catching everyone’s attention with his natural talent and determination to succeed.

From being a young foal to building an impressive career filled with victories at renowned races worldwide – like the Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup – Animal Kingdom’s journey has been truly inspiring. The blend of Brazilian energy and European grace in his bloodline made him stand out as a versatile competitor capable of mastering different surfaces effortlessly. Each step he took echoed historic performances that cemented his name into horse racing history books for years to come.

Introduction to Racing

Animal Kingdom burst onto the racing scene on September 18, 2010, coming in second place in his very first race. He quickly claimed victory in his next race at Keeneland Race Course to break into the winner’s circle. Initially trained by Wayne Catalano, he later switched over to being trained by H. Graham Motion after Team Valor decided to consolidate all their horses under one trainer.

The change in trainers proved smart as Animal Kingdom started to display immense potential on the racetrack. His adaptability and skills shone through as he excelled on various surfaces, dominating both turf and dirt tracks effortlessly.

With each race and more experience under his belt, Animal Kingdom’s pedigree stood out due to its unique mix of Brazilian and European bloodlines renowned for their prowess on turf. This blend played a crucial role in shaping him into an exceptional Thoroughbred racehorse that would soon capture hearts worldwide.

His crowning achievement came at the esteemed Kentucky Derby in 2011 when Animal Kingdom emerged victorious, solidifying his status among racing greats. The sight of him surging past rivals down the homestretch left spectators spellbound, marking an unforgettable moment in horse racing history etched forever in fans’ memories.

Not content with just American victories, Animal Kingdom showcased his talent globally by triumphing at prestigious races like the Dubai World Cup. His international acclaim underscored his remarkable abilities and secured his legacy as a legendary champion who transcended borders and enthralled audiences across the globe.

The Pros & Cons of Equine Racing Legacies


  1. Building on a history of accomplishments and triumphs

  2. Carrying forward a family legacy

  3. Possibility for offspring to grow in value

  4. Opening doors for future breeding collaborations

  5. Paying tribute to previous champions


  1. Feeling the weight to match past successes

  2. Fans and industry experts expecting a lot

  3. Worrying about being known only for family connections, not personal wins

  4. Not much space to try new things or develop independently from family ties

  5. Facing more pressure and attention in the public eye

Triple Crown Races

Animal Kingdom’s journey through the Triple Crown races was a wild ride for his supporters. Despite coming in second in the Preakness Stakes and sixth in the Belmont Stakes, his win at the 2011 Kentucky Derby will always be remembered as a standout moment in racing history.

His ability to perform well on different surfaces really stood out during these big races, showing that he could excel not only on dirt but also on synthetic tracks. Animal Kingdom proved himself as a strong competitor no matter where he raced.

By becoming the first horse to win both the Kentucky Derby and secure a Grade One race at age five, Animal Kingdom solidified his reputation as an outstanding athlete. His determination and talent led him to victories that broke boundaries within horse racing.

The ups and downs of those Triple Crown races added depth to Animal Kingdom’s story – highlighting both his resilience when facing challenges head-on and his unwavering drive towards achieving greatness despite setbacks.

Throughout it all, Animal Kingdom captured hearts around the world with his amazing performances, leaving a lasting impression on fans everywhere. His legacy extends beyond just America, reaching admirers who were impressed by his skills no matter which racetrack he competed on.

Breeding and Early Life

Animal Kingdom was auctioned for $100,000 at the Keeneland Sales in September 2009 when he was just a year old. Team Valor bought him and later formed a new partnership within their team specifically for racing purposes. Born at Denali Stud, Animal Kingdom comes from a mix of Brazilian and European bloodlines known for excelling on turf.

His background is unique, combining South American flair with European elegance which made him stand out among his peers right from the beginning. His ancestors were famous for performing well on grass fields, giving this young colt a strong legacy to carry forward – one filled with champions who thrived in races requiring finesse and agility.

As he grew under the guidance of trainers and breeders, it became clear that Animal Kingdom possessed not only physical grace but also an unbreakable spirit—a winning combination that would take him farther than anyone could have predicted when he first hit the track.

From his early days showing promise and potential to hinting at future greatness waiting around the corner; every move made by this rising star garnered attention as pundits began recognizing his talent deeply rooted across both hemispheres. He truly seemed like a horse destined to make an impact wherever he went.

Starting small but eventually gaining international fame showcases how raw talent paired with exceptional pedigree can create an unstoppable force capable of capturing hearts and trophies effortlessly.

Unexpected twists and standout performances.

Finish Race Distance Jockey Time Grade Runner up/Winner Track Date Notes
11th Queen Anne Stakes 1 mi (T) John Velazquez 1:38.48 1 Declaration of War Ascot Racecourse June 18, 2013 Was uncharacteristically studdish prior to the race.
1st Dubai World Cup 1+1/4 mi Joel Rosario 2:03.22 1 Red Cadeaux Meydan Racecourse March 30, 2013
2nd Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap 1+1/8 mi Joel Rosario 1:47.00 1 Point of Entry (1st) Gulfstream Park February 11, 2013
2nd Breeders’ Cup Mile 1 mi (T) Rafael Bejarano 1:31.78 I Wise Dan (1st) Santa Anita Park November 3, 2012 Placed 2nd after 189 days off
1st Gulfstream Park Allowance 1+1/16 mi John Velazquez 1:41.72 None Monument Hill Gulfstream Park February 18, 2012 Favorite to win
6th Belmont Stakes 1+1/2 mi John Velazquez I Ruler on Ice (1st) Belmont Park June 11, 2011 Sloppy track, bumped and stepped on by a rival, resulting in a bad stumble. Jockey lost irons and nearly fell off.
2nd Preakness Stakes 1+3/16 mi John Velazquez 1:56.47 I Shackleford (1st) Pimlico May 21, 2011
1st Kentucky Derby 1+1/4 mi John R. Velazquez 2:02.04 I Nehro Churchill Downs May 7, 2011 Won under odds of 21:1
1st Spiral Stakes 1+1/8 mi Alan Garcia 1:52.32 III Decisive Moment Turfway Park March 27, 2011
2nd Allowance 1 mi (T) Rajiv Maragh 1:34.66 None Powhattan County (1st) Gulfstream Park, Florida March 3, 2011
1st Maiden Special Weight 1+1/8 mi Robby Albarado 1:49.01 None Bonaroo Keeneland Race Course, Kentucky October 23, 2010
2nd Maiden Special Weight 1+1/16 mi Junior Alvarado 1:45.14 None Willcox Inn (1st) Arlington Park September 18, 2010

Major Wins

In 2011, Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby, a major achievement in his racing career that solidified his position among the top Thoroughbreds of that time. Earlier in the year, he triumphed at the Spiral Stakes, showcasing his speed and endurance on dirt tracks. His ability to switch effortlessly between turf and dirt made him a strong competitor who could excel under various racing conditions.

Two years later in 2013, Animal Kingdom continued to shine by winning the Dubai World Cup, one of horse racing’s most lucrative events. This victory on an international stage not only highlighted his natural talent but also showcased his adaptability to different competition styles and surfaces. His performance in Dubai cemented his reputation as a versatile racehorse with worldwide appeal, captivating audiences globally with his thrilling races and flawless form.

Animal Kingdom’s diverse wins across continents and varying track types underscored his exceptional skills as he conquered challenges everywhere from Churchill Downs’ hilly terrain to Meydan Racecourse’s synthetic surface. Throughout each race, he displayed unparalleled skill and determination which established him as a true champion capable of transcending geographical and competitive boundaries.

With every significant win adding another layer to Animal Kingdom’s impressive career trajectory, it became clear that he was more than just a racehorse – he symbolized resilience, versatility,and unwavering spirit. His success on some of horseracing’s grandest stages elevated him to legendary status within the sport while earning admiration from fans all over who were amazed by how gracefully he handled pressure situations while relentlessly pursuing greatness.

Injury Setbacks and Recovery

After his exciting victory at the Dubai World Cup in 2013, Animal Kingdom faced a series of tough injuries, including fractures that put his racing career in jeopardy. But this strong Thoroughbred refused to give up and underwent several surgeries and intense rehab programs to get back on track. His determination and unyielding spirit were evident as he slowly recovered from these challenges with grace and strength.

During this time of injury setbacks, Animal Kingdom not only had to rely on his physical abilities but also demonstrated immense mental toughness and resolve. Despite encountering major obstacles along the way, he never lost sight of his main goal – making a comeback to the racetrack even stronger than before. With each setback followed by a successful recovery, Animal Kingdom showed repeatedly that champions are defined by how they bounce back from adversity with resilience and bravery.

Through sheer perseverance and grit, Animal Kingdom conquered these daunting challenges to return triumphantly to competitive racing after every injury layoff. His journey from being sidelined due to fractures post-Dubai World Cup win until making triumphant comebacks highlighted not just his exceptional talent on the track but also showcased his remarkable willpower and ability to overcome obstacles thrown in his path.

Mystical Tales of Racing Legends

  1. ### Legendary Stories of Racing Icons

  2. **Animal Kingdom's Unusual Journey:** Animal Kingdom stunned the racing world in 2011 by clinching victory at the Kentucky Derby, despite never having competed on dirt before. This win was a remarkable achievement for a horse known for excelling on turf and synthetic tracks prior to dominating Churchill Downs.

  3. **Unveiling Animal Kingdom's Name Secret:** The inspiration behind Animal Kingdom’s name lies in the idea of harmony within nature. Team Valor International, his owners, selected this title to represent how individuals from diverse backgrounds in the horse racing community united towards a shared objective.

  4. **The Enchantment of Spiral Stakes:** On his road to glory at the Kentucky Derby, Animal Kingdom triumphed at Turfway Park’s Spiral Stakes event. Known for its distinctive spiral-shaped grandstand, this race has served as a launching pad for numerous Derby contenders throughout history.

  5. **A Regal Lineage Connection:** Dalicia, Animal Kingdom's dam, boasts lineage tracing back to Darshaan – one of Europe’s most renowned sires. This prestigious bloodline not only enhanced Animal Kingdom's pedigree but also added an element of mystery and allure to his illustrious career.

  6. **Beyond Just Winning: Dubai Triumph:** Following his historic Kentucky Derby victory, Animal Kindgom showcased his versatility by claiming top honors at the 2013 Dubai World Cup event. By conquering different continents with ease, he solidified his status as a global icon in horseracing lore.

Stud Career

Animal Kingdom has had an incredibly successful stud career. He stands proudly at the JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station, passing down his exceptional genes to horses like Oleksandra (AUS), Angel Of Truth, and Regal Glory. These up-and-coming stars are making a name for themselves in the racing world, carrying on Animal Kingdom’s impressive legacy.

His offspring have inherited his talent and winning spirit on the racetrack. With each race they run, they honor their legendary sire who achieved victory in some of the most prestigious races worldwide. Through their wins, Animal Kingdom’s influence continues to grow as a symbol of excellence in breeding circles.

As a top stallion at JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station, Animal Kingdom represents resilience and determination in creating future champions. His bloodlines combine Brazilian and European heritage known for strong performances on turf – a combination that has consistently produced elite Thoroughbreds through generations.

The story of success doesn’t stop when Animal Kingdom retired from racing; it enters an exciting new phase where he plays a crucial role in shaping the next generation of superstars in sports through his remarkable lineage. His presence at JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station ensures that his legacy lives on not only through memories but also through real achievements on racetracks across the world.

International Success

Animal Kingdom had a big win at the Dubai World Cup in 2013, impressing everyone on the sandy tracks of Dubai. This victory showed not only how well he could race on different surfaces but also that he was better than all his tough competitors from around the world.

His success at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai was a major moment for Animal Kingdom, proving that he was one of the best racehorses globally. Winning in Dubai also highlighted his amazing skills as he smoothly moved across new ground with strength and style.

People all over loved watching Animal Kingdom’s thrilling races because they were so exciting. He became famous worldwide for his speed, endurance, and determination every time he raced.

From Churchill Downs to Meydan, Animal Kingdom made a huge impact on horse racing internationally through his incredible wins and strong willpower. His story continues to inspire both fans of horses and future jockeys to chase their dreams no matter what challenges come their way.

With hard work, toughness, and natural talent, Animal Kingdom earned himself a spot among the legends of horse racing—a champion whose fame reaches across oceans as proof of endless skill and heart-pounding excitement at racetracks everywhere.

Legacy and Awards

Animal Kingdom was a standout in the horse racing world, earning the title of American Champion Three-Year-Old Male Horse back in 2011. This accolade showcased his incredible talent and dominance on the race track. His wins at big races like the Kentucky Derby proved he could perform under pressure and win over fans from all around.

What set Animal Kingdom apart was his mix of Brazilian and European bloodlines that were known for excelling on different types of tracks. This background made him a versatile competitor, capable of shining on both dirt and turf surfaces. It’s clear that his diverse heritage played a key role in shaping Animal Kingdom into the exceptional racehorse he became during his career.

Despite facing injuries along the way, Animal Kingdom showed resilience by bouncing back successfully each time. This not only highlighted his physical strength but also revealed a determined spirit that resonated with fans worldwide.

Beyond just winning races, Animal Kingdom captured hearts across continents as he made strides toward greatness. The awards and recognition he received are proof of his impact on horse racing history, ensuring that he will forever be remembered as an unforgettable champion who broke boundaries with grace and power.


1. How did Animal Kingdom's unique breeding lineage contribute to his success on the racetrack?

Animal Kingdom had a mix of Brazilian and European bloodlines, which gave him top skills on the turf. This helped him do really well in races because he could perform on different types of tracks.

2. What were some of the key races that Animal Kingdom won leading up to his victory in the Kentucky Derby?

Animal Kingdom won several important races before his triumph in the Kentucky Derby, such as the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park and the Grade 3 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

3. Can you describe the challenges Animal Kingdom faced, such as injuries, and how he overcame them during his racing career?

Animal Kingdom faced several injuries during his racing career, such as a hock injury that kept him off the track for months. Despite this, he showed incredible resilience and determination to bounce back from these challenges and come back even stronger.

4. In what ways did Animal Kingdom showcase his versatility by excelling on both turf and dirt surfaces?

Animal Kingdom proved he could perform well on various types of tracks, winning the Kentucky Derby on dirt and the Dubai World Cup on synthetic Tapeta. This shows his ability to adapt and showcase talent in different racing conditions.

5. How did Animal Kingdom's triumph in prestigious races like the Dubai World Cup elevate his status as a global racing sensation?

Animal Kingdom's win in big races like the Dubai World Cup made him a global racing superstar. He showed off his amazing talent on the world stage and proved himself as a strong and versatile racehorse.

6. What impact has Animal Kingdom had on the Thoroughbred racing world since retiring to become a stallion at JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station?

Animal Kingdom has made a lasting impact on the world of Thoroughbred racing with his impressive family history, victories around the globe, and ability to bounce back from challenges. He has proven himself as a champion on the racetrack and in breeding at JBBA Shizunai Stallion Station.