Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Animal Kingdom: Before he was a Derby winner

John Velazquez and Heather Craig leading Animal Kingdom after his Derby victory.

Having done a cover profile on Graham Motion for North American Trainer and a Q&A interview with Team Valor’s Barry Irwin for the May issue of Thoroughbred Owner & Breeder, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I had a special rooting interest in Animal Kingdom to win the Kentucky Derby.

I got a good look at the colt in his stall hours before he won the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway on March 26, and was impressed by what a gorgeous, physically imposing horse he is. My camera’s memory card chose that day to quit working, so I had to rely on my camera phone for my pictures.

Relaxing in his stall before the Spiral.

Graham putting Animal Kingdom's blinkers on at Turfway.

To the winner's circle! Alan Garcia up.

Graham kept Animal Kingdom at my home track, Keeneland (photos below), for most of the six weeks between the Spiral and the Derby, so I was able to see him train some mornings. In retrospect, it was nice to have him all to myself; that will certainly never happen again...!

Animal Kingdom, held by John Panagot, sneaking a look behind him on the track in mid-April.

Out for a gallop at Keeneland.

Graham leads Animal Kingdom off the track.

Returning to the barn.


  1. Lovely post Frances, great photos!

  2. These are very nice photos, Frances. Noting that he was training on Poly, as well as racing on it, puts a hole in the general tendency to think that horses with successes on synthetic are not good on dirt. Oh ho!


  3. How wonderful that you had a chance to get to see/know him before he became the champ! Thank you for sharing your time with him pre-fame and your photos.