Haskin's Derby Recap: Kingdom Come

Graham Motion stood outside Barn 22 the morning of the $2,171,800  May 7 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and admitted he had no idea what to expect from Team Valor International’s Animal Kingdom, who was about to make his first career start on dirt. Motion was well aware that no horse had ever won the Derby making his dirt debut.

“I just don’t know,” Motion said. “The statistics are all against him, I feel good about running the horse, but it’s such an unknown. I love the horse, I love the way he worked over the dirt, and I love his attitude. He’s got everything going for him. It’s just that unknown.”

But as Jim Morrison said, “There are things known, and there are things unknown. And in between are the doors.”

Later that evening, Animal Kingdom burst through one of those doors, and awaiting him on the other side was Kentucky Derby immortality. By powering down the Churchill Downs stretch to a 2 ¾-length victory in front of a record crowd of 164,658, the unknown had become known. Racing had a new star and a legitimate Triple Crown threat.

But most of all, his victory unleashed a flood of emotions, a great deal of it resulting from the improbable victory by John Velazquez and the unusual circumstances that led to him winding up on Animal Kingdom.

In the past three years, Velazquez has seen his Derby favorite Quality Road withdrawn a week before the race because of a quarter crack, the heavy Derby favorite Eskendereya withdrawn several days before the Derby with a career-ending injury, and this year’s early favorite Uncle Mo scratched the morning before the race due to an intestinal ailment.

Although disappointed and frustrated, Velazquez understood that this sport can rip your heart out at any time and you have to learn to come to terms with it.

“What can you do; it’s part of racing,” Velazquez said later that day in the quiet of the backstretch. “One year we’ll win it when we least expect it.”

Never could he have imagined this would be that year.

When Robby Albarado, who was named to ride Animal Kingdom in the Derby, suffered a broken nose after being kicked by a horse and felt he was unable to ride the day before the Derby, it was decided not to take any chances, and they replaced Albarado with Velazquez.

“That call to Robby was a tough one make,” Motion said. “But when he took off his mounts on Friday that was a concern, and when Johnny became available, we decided to go with him.”

The Derby gods had made an uncharacteristic 11th hour appearance on the scene. Destiny had somehow brought together Motion and Velazquez, whose families have been close friends for years.

“We met Graham when he worked for Jonathan Sheppard,” Velazquez’ wife Leona recalled. “After he became a trainer and went to Florida for the first year, Johnny rode for him and they struck up a friendship. We became very close to Graham and (his wife) Anita. Then Anita and I became pregnant at the same time and our sons (Michael Velazquez and Chappy Motion) were born two weeks apart, and they’re best friends. You can’t make it up.”

Anita added, “We have dinner together and go to each other’s houses. When Animal Kingdom won, the first thing Chappy said to me was, ‘Does this mean I get to play with Michael tonight?’”

So, for the first time in Derby history, a jockey lost the mount on one of the favorites the day before the race and wound up being named on the eventual winner.

Add to the script Motion losing his big Derby horse, Toby’s Corner, winner of the Wood Memorial, four days before the race due to injury. Motion described the loss of Toby’s Corner as “brutal.”

The colt was scheduled to leave Fair Hill Tuesday morning when it was noticed he was lame. Toby’s Corner’s owners, Dianne and Julian Cotter, were already en route from Florida to pick up their daughter Carrie and her family in North Carolina when they received a call from Motion saying that Toby’s Corner had an injury would not make the Derby. They now had to decide whether to turn around and go home or continue to Louisville. They decided to keep going and try to enjoy the Derby experience and their new rooting interest, Animal Kingdom, who they visited almost every morning they were there. They were nothing but gracious and supportive their entire time in Louisville.

It was no wonder that emotions poured so freely following Animal Kingdom’s rousing victory, in which he closed his final half-mile in a spectacular :47 1/5, the second-fastest closing half ever in the Derby behind Secretariat.

Following the race, a stunned Leona was in tears, as was her 12-year-old daughter Lerina. Clutched in Leona’s hand was a wooden cross.

“The only other time I clutched this in my hand was when Rags to Riches won the Belmont Stakes (gr. I),” she said. “I still don’t believe this is happening. Up and down. Up and down.”

In the jockey’s lounge after the race, Lirena was still beaming through her braces, as Michael was off in the corner  playing ping-pong. “I wasn’t expecting this,” she said. “I’m in shock. It was really awesome. My brother is only 8 and I hope he remembers this; he was crying hysterically.”

Perhaps no one was more emotional than Velazquez’s agent, Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero.

It was Cordero who discovered Velazquez from a videotape of the apprentice rider in action in Puerto Rico. Cordero brought Velazquez to America and mentored the young rider, eventually taking over his book. From the time Velazquez came to this country, he has looked up to Cordero as a father figure. After the tragic hit-and-run death of Cordero’s wife Marjorie in Jan. 2001, he felt his life was over. All he had to live for were his children and Velazquez, who he was determined to make one of the great riders of all time. Cordero said it was Velazquez and that quest that helped keep his life together.

Now both are inscribed in the history books as Kentucky Derby winners.

“He’s like my son,” said a visibly shaken Cordero. “I know how much I’ve dreamt this for him and how much I’ve wanted it. After what’s happened the last three years I could see he was down. When I saw him coming down the stretch I wished I could fly down there and ride that horse with him. When he crossed the wire I had tears in my eyes. I was yelling so hard I thought I was going to have a heart attack. It’s just destiny. It’s like a movie script.”

But the real hero was Animal Kingdom, who was bred by Team Valor, which keeps only eight broodmares. Another Team Valor-bred horse from the same crop was Pluck, who captured last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. IIT) for Todd Pletcher. It was after that race that Team Valor president Barry Irwin decided to keep all their horses at Fair Hill with one trainer and sent them to Graham Motion, who he regarded as a “helluva trainer.” One of those was Animal Kingdom, a son of Leroidesanimaux – Dalicia, by Acatenango, who was trained by Wayne Catalano.

Standing by the gap on the Monday before the Derby, Catalano recalled the immature chestnut colt sent to him by Team Valor.

“He came from Randy Bradshaw along with another colt who was more advanced,” Catalano recalled. “Barry said to take my time with him. He was just a big, green, backward Baby Huey type of horse, so we took our time with him. He didn’t want to do much until we put a set of blinkers on him.”

Bradshaw always felt Animal Kingdom would handle dirt by the way he trained over it as a young horse. “I told Barry both were really nice horses, but my gut feeling told me Animal Kingdom will be better on dirt,” Bradshaw said.

In his career debut on Sept. 18, he came from 10th and last in a 1 1/16-mile maiden race at Arlington to finish second before breaking his maiden going 1 1/8 miles at Keeneland on Oct. 23.

“When he won the second start of his life the way he did going a mile and an eighth I knew he was a Derby horse.” Bradshaw said.

But that race marked the end of Animal Kingdom’s stay in Catalano’s care.

“A short while later, Barry called me and said he wanted to have all his horses in one spot and was sending them to Graham Motion,” Catalano said. “You’re always disappointed when you think you’ve got something special. But I’m happy to see him do well and that we kept everything good and didn’t mess him up.”

Motion put Animal Kingdom on the grass and he was beaten a head in a one-mile allowance/optional claimer at Gulfstream. It was time for the fates to take over once again. The plan was to run another colt, Crimson China, in the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III) on the Polytrack at Turfway Park and run Animal Kingdom on the same card in the listed Rushaway Stakes. But when Crimson China didn’t have sufficient earnings to get in the race, they switched and ran Animal Kingdom in the Spiral and Crimson China in the Rushaway.

Animal Kingdom’s 2 ¾-length victory put him in the Kentucky Derby. “In life, everything has to fit together,” Irwin said. “It’s nice to have the goods; it’s nice to be intelligent, but unless things go your way and you’re lucky, it’s not going to happen.”

Riding Animal Kingdom in the Spiral was Alan Garcia, his fourth rider in as many starts. After dismounting, an excited Garcia stated emphatically, "Wherever they want to go with this horse I want to be there."

Garcia was there alright, but unfortunately for him, not from the same vantage point. The next time he would see Animal Kingdom was from the back of Soldat as his former mount was blowing by him on his inside nearing the quarter pole at Churchill Downs.

It didn’t take long for Animal Kingdom to become a favorite in the barn. “He’s such a character and has the coolest personality,” Heather Craig, who began exercising the colt just before the Spiral, said a week before the Derby. “Originally, his exercise rider in Florida, Jodie Petty, would kick him in the belly to get him to go, and he would just turn around and go, ‘Really?’

“But since the Spiral, he’s been training like a machine, with these huge, bounding strides. Now he’s a true racehorse and tugs his regular exercise rider David Nava around the racetrack.”

Those bounding strides didn’t escape the eagle eye on Bob Baffert, who had Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Midnight Interlude. “That’s the horse,” Baffert said emphatically after having watched Animal Kingdom work six furlongs in 1:13 on April 30 and observing his subsequent gallops.

It was that six-furlong work, following an unproductive work that didn’t go as planned a week earlier that convinced Motion and Irwin to point for the Kentucky Derby.

“If he hadn’t shown us what he did, we wouldn’t have run him in the Derby,” Irwin said.

The 137th Kentucky Derby, provided its share of human interest stories. The most publicized was trainer Kathy Ritvo, who had been near death before receiving a heart transplant that saved her life, and Mucho Macho Man, who was believed to be dead at birth, but miraculously jumped to his feet and ran off across the paddock. Then there was longtime local favorite Jinks Fires and his son-in-law and jockey Jon Court competing in their first Kentucky Derby with Arkansas Derby (gr. I) winner Archarcharch. There was 23-year-old jockey Rosie Napravnik with a legitimate chance to become the first female rider to win the Kentucky Derby on Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Pants on Fire.

One trainer who has been dreaming about the Derby since he was a child was Dale Romans, who grew up only three miles from Churchill Downs and between him and his father have been in the same barn for 40 years. Romans was confident in his colt, Florida Derby (gr. I) runner-up Shackleford, who he was planning to send to the lead and dare someone to try to catch him.

“My father trained mostly claimers and I started working in the barn when I was 8 years old, emptying muck baskets and filling up water buckets,” said Romans, who finished third in last year’s Derby with Paddy O’Prado. “I’ve spent more time in this barn than I have at home. We never thought about the Kentucky Derby back then. It wasn’t even a dream, because it couldn’t happen.”

One owner looking for a change in luck in the Derby was Ahmed Zayat, who saw his Santa Anita Derby winner Pioneerof the Nile finish second to longshot Mine That Bird in 2009 and then lost his red-hot Derby favorite Eskenderya in 2010. After a lengthy court battle with Fifth Third Bank later that year, Zayat bounced back in 2011 with several top-class 3-year-olds, but had to watch his best colt, Jaycito, fall off the Derby trail in mid-April.

But Zayat still had another classy colt in the late developing Nehro, who suffered narrow defeats in the Louisiana (gr. II) and Arkansas Derbys, closing fast each time. Zayat’s confidence soared as he spent the Thursday before the Derby with Nehro, kissing him while he was grazing, kissing him in his stall, and kissing him while he was being schooled. The colt was looking better physically by the day and was attacking the grass and his feed tub.

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Fountain of Youth (gr. II) winner Soldat, has fond memories of watching his first Derby in 1979 from the roof of Barn 10 where he was working as a groom.

There also was a European connection, as trainer Aidan O’Brien sent over Ms. John Magnier’s UAE Derby (UAE-II) runner-up Master of Hounds.

Team Valor had come close in the Derby in 1997 when Captain Bodgit was beaten a head in the Run for the Roses by Silver Charm, and Irwin has been waiting ever since to return for another chance with a legitimate contender.

The big story all week was the condition of 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo, as rumors of his withdrawal from the Derby spread throughout the backstretch. Those rumors became reality the morning before the race when Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole announced that the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner would not run in the Derby.

With Uncle Mo out of the Derby, the clear-cut favorite at 5-1 was Florida  Derby and Holy Bull (gr. III) winner Dialed In, trained by Nick Zito and owner by Robert LaPenta, who had teamed up to finish second in last year’s Derby with Ice Box.

At the start, Dialed In was squeezed and immediately dropped back to last, falling far off the pace, and on the inside it was apparent Archarcharch was in big trouble, as be continuously swerved, steadied, and bobbled. As Romans had predicted, Shackleford established a clear lead, followed by Comma to the Top and Soldat on the outside. Animal Kingdom broke alertly and was able to get a good position in midpack, while racing four wide into the clubhouse turn.

Shackleford continued to wing it unchallenged on the lead. After a solid opening quarter in :23.24, he was able to slow the pace down, getting his half in :48.63. Nehro, who had come from far back in the Arkansas Derby, was racing well off the rail in sixth, but in good striking position, with Mucho Macho Man right behind him.

Velazquez had Animal Kingdom in a comfortable spot and was able to ease up gradually while following Mucho Macho Man. Shackleford, meanwhile, was able to slow the pace down to a crawl, the three-quarters in 1:13.40, the slowest opening three-quarters since 1947, with Comma to the Top and Decisive Moment still right behind taking up the chase.

Around the turn, Corey Nakatani, on Nehro, wanted no more of the slow pace and gunned his colt into contention. Nehro now loomed menacingly on the far outside. Several lengths behind him, Animal Kingdom was reaching a critical point in the race. The traffic jams were forming and Velazquez was able to split Midnight Interlude and Watch Me Go to get out of one potential hazard, but there was one more move he had to make. As he cleared those two he had to outrun and clear a tiring Soldat and ease to the outside before a rallying Brilliant Speed could trap him in behind Mucho Macho Man.

He flew by Soldat and found a seam to the outside, giving him clear sailing out in the middle of the track. By now, Nehro was charging up on even terms with Shackleford, but was well to the outside of him. Shackleford, game as usual, held on tenaciously, but probably never saw Nehro.

The pace had picked up with a mile in 1:37.49. After turning for home, Animal Kingdom began to show his greenness, as he drifted in on Mucho Macho Man. Although there was no contact, it forced Mucho Macho Man in toward Pants on Fire, who was putting in a steady run. Velazquez threw a cross on Animal Kingdom and he began to drift in again, this time on Nehro. Velazquez had to go to a left-handed whip to get him off Nehro, and Animal Kingdom drifted back out. Velazquez then had to switch back to a right-handed whip, but by this point, Animal Kingdom was already in the lead and drawing away. This performance demonstrated how much raw talent this colt has, to be able to run a race like this in a 19-horse Derby field while racing greenly.

With his victory he became the first horse since Exterminator in 1918 to win the Derby with only four career starts; the first horse since Needles in 1956 to win the Derby off a six-week layoff; and the first horse ever to win the Derby having never started on dirt. With his pedigree, his versatility, and his powerful closing punch that he can sustain for over a half-mile, there is no doubt this colt’s future in limitless.

There also were a number of firsts regarding his pedigree. Leroidesanimaux became the first Brazilian-bred horse to sire a U.S. classic winner. Dalicia became the first German-bred mare to produce a U.S. classic winner. And Acatenango became the first German-bred broodmare sire of a U.S. classic winner.

Mucho Macho Man, who had been a bit late changing leads, began to show his best stride inside the sixteenth pole, passing Shackleford and nearly catching Nehro for second. From out of the pack, where he was surrounded by horses, Master of Hounds came flying late, weaving in and out as if he were a running back dodging linebackers. Once finally in the clear, he leveled off down on the inside and managed to get fifth in a three-horse photo with Santiva and Brilliant Speed.

As for Dialed In, he remained well back in last for the first three-quarters, and basically had no shot after a half in 1:13 2/5. He did pass horses in the stretch to finish eighth in the 19-horse field.

The final time was a respectable 2:02.04, with Animal Kingdom coming home his final quarter in :23 4/5, second only to Secretariat’s :23 1/5. This followed a :23 2/5 quarter, giving him his powerful :47 1/5 final half-mile.

One of the first ones on the track was Aron Wellman, vice-president of operations for Team Valor.

“Oh, my God, this is unbelievable,” he said. “He ran like a champion. This is what we dream about. It’s surreal.”

Watching back in Maryland at her aunt’s house was Becky Kelly, foreman at Fair Hill.

“That was just amazing,” she said. “We’ve always had a lot of confidence in this horse’s ability. My aunt used to be a trainer and I grew up having the dreams and knowing the importance of winning the Kentucky Derby. So it’s such an honor now to be affiliated with a Derby winner. We all work so hard and it’s an incredible team effort. And Graham makes it fun by creating such a great atmosphere.”

The only major casualty in the race was Archarcharch, who had that horrible trip early, had his saddle slip on the backstretch, and then was pulled up after the wire with what was diagnosed as a condylar fracture of the left foreleg, which is not considered life-threatening. But it did mark the end of a promising career. In addition, Pants on Fire bled significantly and Comma to the Top returned with a small ankle chip.

In another ironic twist to the story, Toby’s Corner’s jockey Eddie Castro wound up winning the $100,000 Beaugay Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont Park on Derby Day with Daveron for Motion and Team Valor. Daveron’s dam, Darwinia, is a full-sister to the dam of Animal Kingdom.

No jockey – trainer team has been closer and more successful for so many years than Velazquez and Todd Pletcher. So, how fitting that one year after Pletcher wins his first Kentucky Derby without Velazquez, Velazquez wins his first Derby without Pletcher.

No such thing as the Derby gods, huh?

With the victors in the National Museum of racing for the traditional winner’s party, Ahmed Zayat and his son Justin were heading out of the track, exiting by the museum.

“How do you run second twice in three years and lose the favorite the other year?” a naturally disappointed Zayat asked. “That’s hard to take. It was Pioneerof the Nile all over again. He was doing so well and was so ready. But I’m very proud of my horse.”

Justin added, “We dream of winning this some day.”

Kathy Ritvo continued her amazing journey, and now has a classic-placed horse.

“He’s only going to get better,” she said. “He’s a June 15 foal. Hopefully, he’ll come back in a couple of weeks (in the May 21 grade I Preakness) if he’s doing well and we’re ready to go. He was fabulous today. He gave his all and finished strong. It was really exciting. When I saw him turn for home and he was running, I was jumping around and cheering him on.”

And so, one of the wildest and most confusing Kentucky Derbys is in the history book. Sometimes destiny takes a roundabout way of getting somewhere, but in the end it all makes sense.



Leave a Comment:


Almost none of us knew about him but after seeing the race and knowing how weak the competition is he may be a legitimate triple crown threat.  It has to be great to have a horse this fresh going into the second two legs with a chance to make more history.  I thought all along that Dialed In was a pretender but was obviously disappointed by the performance of Master of Hounds and Soldat.  I never did hear what happened to Master of Hounds in the post parade.

09 May 2011 9:19 PM
Needler in Virginia

Lovely, lovely, lovely! Thanks for this, Steve. No way could anyone tell the story better. This one is going straight to the printer and thence into my ring binder filled with Steve Haskin columns..........

Cheers and safe trips.

09 May 2011 9:33 PM
Mister Frisky

Dear Steve,Thanks again for the past few months of coverage it was as good as ever.When you here anything more about the condition of Toby's Corner could you pass it on.It was bitter sweet having the winner and the tri without Toby being a part of it.Graham Motion deserves all the credit for Animal Kingdom.He took to dirt like a duck to water.So much for Soldat,Dialed In,and the rest of this bunch excluding the top three finishers .I only see Toby and Arthurs Tale on the level with the Animal.

09 May 2011 9:43 PM


Thanks for the beautifully written, information packed recount of the derby and the circumstances leading up to it this year. I have felt that when we least expect it we will have our next triple crown winner. I'm not a superstitious person so I don't feel that statement will jinx Animal Kingdom. He was one of the big unknowns in the race having not run on dirt before but he proved he might have "the stuff" of a triple crown winner.

It's becoming harder and harder for a horse to complete this feat with fresher horses challenging him in the final two legs. Let's all hope everything falls into place for the Son of the King of the Animals to take his place alongside the prior triple crown winners.

09 May 2011 9:51 PM
Karen in Texas

Absolutely wonderful recap, Steve! So many twists and ironies--how can you not believe in the Derby gods--these things can't be scripted. So many special stories this year for the horses and the connections! Animal Kingdom and his international pedigree made history, and I hope he continues creating new history all the way through the Belmont. Again, thanks for a great recap.

09 May 2011 9:56 PM
Karen in Indiana

Graham Motion has been a trainer in my virtual stable for 2 years now. He's my 'if I ever win the lottery and can buy racehorses' trainer, so I am thrilled that he won this. He and his team treat the horses like horses and they thrive. What a good face of racing for the public to see. My son went to the Derby for the first time, I told him my picks were Archarcharch, Mucho Macho Man and aniaml Kingdom. He and his friends put money on the first two, but then picked Soldat instead of Animal Kingdom because they're in the Army (Soldat is french for soldier). It was a wonderfully clean run race.

09 May 2011 10:24 PM

Nice article Steve.

Reread your write up on A.K and you nailed it..

I really never liked the horse to win did not like the fact he never ran on the dirt.

A.K broke so much history only 4 prior races 6 weeks off and no prior dirt races.

I really thought I had the race when my pick Schack had a 1:13 3/4 mile..

Thanks for everything and look forward to more great stuff

09 May 2011 10:29 PM

Once again, thanks for another great wrap-up and all of the interesting perspectives and little bits of synchronicity. Hope people remember your May 02 blog called "An Animal On The Dirt?" We all should have paid more attention to that one!

09 May 2011 10:40 PM
calico cat

Mr. Haskin,

I've been waiting and waiting for this article. Once again you have delighted us with great details and astute comments.

Loved this Kentucky Derby!!! The best horse won and what an awesome victory it was! Great trainer, brilliant ride by an accomplished jockey and a beautifully bred horse who has a real chance to win the Preakness. I'm not going any further than that. Been there too many times. But if he can repeat this performance at Pimlico, I'll be a basket case.

Congratulations to a terrific team! And thank you Mr. Haskin for all the beautiful articles leading up to the race. As always, they were a treasure of information and I savored everyone of them.

09 May 2011 10:41 PM

This was a most enjoyable Derby!  I'm sadly disappointed about Uncle Mo and wonder how he would've fared in the race if he'd have been healthy.  Lord willing, he will be ok and we'll see his top form again.

Steve, from what I could tell watching on tv and watching replays, I had two observations about Animal Kingdom - 1) It appeared that he looked bigger with a longer stride than MMM, and 2) As he was separating from Nehro and Shackleford, Animal Kingdom looked as if he wasn't in the least bit taxed.  He had another 1/4 or half in him it looked to me.

I knew Shackleford was going to make whoever beat him, earn it.  I really like that horse.  The way Nehro placed himself toward the front, with 3/8ths to go, I thought it was game over!  I thought it was his race to lose.  Master of Hounds was really closing there in the end.  Fun to watch!

Good day at the window:

AK to win

AK / Nehro for Exacta

I had AK / Nehro / Shackleford for the TRI (dang it!!!)

After pumping my fist for my bets, I shouted, "THAT horse could win a Triple Crown!"  He is a great horse but I see the Macho Man winning Belmont.  THAT could be a showdown!!!

Great article!

09 May 2011 11:25 PM

Surprised that you didn't mention Bobby Frankel Steve.  He would be giddy knowing that the Brazilian beast he nicknamed Leroy sired a Derby winner after trying so hard to win the Derby.  I was not surprised (even if I should've won more than I did); his grandsire Candy Stripes was clearly capable and 'Leroy' has had several notable recent winners which made me think the stars were aligned. I also knew G-Mo was entering this horse to secure a Derby table. He is cautious and only acts when it feels right.

I think this horse will be hard to deny winning the TC.  He inhaled that field when it mattered - despite being a bit green as you noted.  

09 May 2011 11:46 PM


Brilliant commentary on the Derby, as usual. I was happy for Johnny V getting his first Derby win, although I did feel bad for Albarado losing the winning mount. I will be rooting for Animal Kingdom to win the Preakness, to get a chance to capture the Triple Crown... With all of the unusual circumstances surrounding this horse and his connections, could this be a teaser - a set up by the ultra-fickle "racing gods" for a TC winner?

09 May 2011 11:48 PM

Thanks for this terrific account, as always, Steve!  And how prescient of you to have written that "Derby Report: An Animal on Dirt?" on May 2, in which you called his dirt work at Churchill Downs "exceptional" and concluded:  "It might be worth it to keep an eye on Animal Kingdom, a rapidly improving colt who is capable of making some noise on May 7."  He certainly made some noise!

Do you happen to know who took over training duties for Kingdom when he was stabled at (I think) Keenland in April-early May while Motion remained, for most of the time anyway, at Far Hill?

10 May 2011 12:01 AM

As always, a remarkable piece, with soul stirring detail. If you can't be at Churchill Downs, you can live vicariously through Steve Haskin.

10 May 2011 12:10 AM
Fuzzy Corgi

For such a wide open race, this derby did not disappoint... for fans and bettors alike. There were so many interesting stories about horses and connections too. At the top of the stretch it was still anyones game. Animal Kingdom surprised pretty much everyone when he ran by the other horses like a monster to grab the roses! I'd heard reports that he was training well over the track all week but WOW! Even though I was really rooting for Mucho Macho Man I'm thrilled for Animal Kingdom. His daddy, Leroidesanimaux, has always been a favorite of mine.

A disappointment was Team Valor International's owner. I wish he had shown a little more class and censored himself. Nobody needed to hear Mr. Irwin's comments about cheating trainers. To me that was poor business practice. Dirty laundry doesn't belong at the KY Derby.

Mostly I'm happy that Archarcharch, Comma To The Top and Pants On Fire will be ok. We won't be seeing Archarcharch on the track again, but we will be seeing his babies in a few years. What a tough horse he is to run the whole way with a fracture and finish that well.

Kudos to Larry Collmus for an excellent job calling the race.

Oh, and Steve, nice touch adding the Jim Morrison quote.

10 May 2011 12:24 AM
Bob from Boston

Great article, as always, Steve.

10 May 2011 12:47 AM
Windy City

Thanks Steve for great look back! That was truly a crazy route to the Derby this year. I hope Archarcharch will survive, what a heart he must have to run with broken ankle and still finish 15th!

I have a feeling that Mr Zito will strike in Pilmico this year...

10 May 2011 12:54 AM

Well, okay....I was sucked into registering to comment by your Morrison/Doors reference Steve.  Jim quotes Blake with the door ref.


Animal Kingdom.  Well, he's a great reason to spend some time on pedigree.  Is he our next Triple Crown winner?  He can get the 10 furlongs.  Thanks for the wonderful commentary.  

I want to name one of my horse's foal Gateisstraight or Deepandwide when she retires.  Heck, she's only 2 now.  How about Bright Midnight?

10 May 2011 2:17 AM
The Deacon

You sure have a way Steve of telling a story. I sure I could up what's in that mind of yours and sell it to the highest bidder. Your timing is also impeccable. Great story,and I am very happy for the connections. It's about time Johnny V got a break, he sure took his share of heat for the Life at ten fiasco last November. So this is a well deserved break.

Maybe a star was born last Saturday, we sure can use one right now. Maybe Animal Kingdom will emerge as the best 3 year old in the land, the skies the limit. I can see him, Uncle Mo and maybe Toby's Corner coming down the stretch heads apart in the Travers.

By the looks of the possible field for the Preakness, it could be a stiffer test then the Derby.....

Kudos Steve as always.......

10 May 2011 2:38 AM
Steve Haskin

Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the kind words. If anyone noticed a typo in the column about Baffert it has been fixed. Thats what an 11 1/2-hour drive can do to your brain :).

10 May 2011 2:42 AM
A Horsey Canuck

Steve, you would have to make many more typos before any shadow is cast on your writing. What a terrific article! I felt I was watching the race all over again, only with an expert at the helm. All the nuances and bits of fate that you pointed out just added so much to the complete "story". I'm a died-in-the-wool Secretariat fan, but I see similarities in "The Animal" and am excited about The Preakness. I hope he remains as fresh as Graham Motion says he is. Like "Needler in Virginia", I too have a Steve Haskin binder. This awesome 2011 Derby ReCap column of yours will go in there, as well as in my 2011 Triple Crown binder. It's definitely "one for the books" and I thank you. So many possibilities in The Preakness - I think that Nehro and Shackleford still loom large for the 2nd leg of this year's "Crown". I look forward to your lead-up articles to the big race on the 21st.

10 May 2011 5:27 AM

Steve, thanks for your columns. I bet a lot of small tickets and had 13, 14, 16, 19 underneath on a tri below 8, 15.  Wonder what happened to Midnight INterlude; really expected more.  Also had a huge (for me) show bet on Shackelford and was surprised he didn't hold on after those slow middle fractions.  I was excited for 1:59 of the race.  Less than 6 months till Breeders Cup

10 May 2011 6:53 AM

I recently found out that no "storm cat" has ever won the Derby. Why do you think that is? With SHackelford and Dialed In bets, I obviously wasn't tracking that info.

10 May 2011 6:54 AM

It was a most exciting Derby, and you, Steve, as usual, have presented us with an amazing back story.  Thank you so much for the enjoyment and insight you bring.  It's always such a pleasure to graze so contentedly in a field of prose even sweeter than blue grass.

Animal Kingdom was amazing, but now I have to find a corner in which to lick my wounds.  Rosie had Pants On Fire in a perfect striking position for most of the race.  I'm guessing he'll run on lasix in the future.  And I feel terrible for Archie and all of his connections...he's such a beautiful colt.

10 May 2011 6:59 AM
Rachel NH

Good article as always, love the horse, the race was good except for poor AAA...now that's a tough trip.

PS Steve, I'm hesitant to mention this because I realize it doesn't mean the same thing to many people, and I know how you love to "play on words" and I love that about you, too, but could I kindly ask you not to get too carried away with the "kingdom come" aspect of this horse's name? It wouldn't even be a catch phrase to use if it wasn't a part of a well-known Christian prayer...I know I'm probably being over-sensitive...♥

10 May 2011 7:10 AM

Excellent recap Steve.

I would never have picked this horse because of the wide post position. The fact that he traveled wide yet won easily, might be as sign that he is even better than he has shown.

I hope this is the last year we hear endless comments about the number of preps a horse has run, the number of starts a horse has made, whether a horse ran as a 2yo and the time between starts, because as always all a horse needs to do to win any race is finish ahead of the other starters.

Congrats to the connections and John Velazquez. Congrats to the breeders also. They may have uncovered a stallion, Leroidesanimaux, who might add new vigor to the breed for years to come.

10 May 2011 7:44 AM

first off congrats to mr.motion,johnny v,and animal kingdom-as for the classless mr.irwin no comment....till the end...-also thank you

robby a and congrats on the hummana

win..you made MY day!...now to derby #137....i sure wish somebody told me this was a turf race...well thats how it was run like a turf race...more than half the runners in there were either turf runners or poly horses...i never thought that they would go 48 and change and 1:13 and change...then came home pretty good...dialed in ran his race..was really gobbling up ground,,if it was run like a real derby he woulda been right there...with that being said..i doubt very much that the preakness will be run that way..i'm expecting a true DIRT style race..fast outta the gate..dialed in should be right there at the end......as far as derbys go the feedback i'm hearing is that it was ,, well boring..personally i missed tom durkin calling the race.....and mr irwin..enjoy it while you can because what you  did to robby was classless..to say the least...

10 May 2011 8:16 AM

Hats off to the breeders of AK for that great mix. The heartier European backgrounds with fewer dopers seems to be trouncing the weaker American horses. Officials please take note and lets get rid of the racing medication once and for all. Did AK run on lasix and bute? Hope this horse goes far but I hated the commentator's remark how "this year is like the year of Big Brown, without Big Brown". We'll see I guess...

10 May 2011 8:29 AM

I assume Johnny V will ride Animal Kingdom in the Preakness, but is there a chance Valor would go back to Albarado?  Just curious.  

10 May 2011 8:43 AM
Bill in Atlanta

Great recap Steve and I plan to email it to our group that was at the Derby.  It was truly a great race, a great crowd and a great day. As part of our group of 16 at the Derby, it was my son and his wife's first Derby.  He quickly made friends with this older couple that sat behind us.  It was the older gentlemen's SEVENTY SECOND DERBY!!!  He had some great stories for us. As race 11 was about to start, he had bet only one horse in the Derby, and it was because as he put it, "Johnny V is the best jockey in the world". When Animal Kingdom and "the best jockey in the world" came roaring down the stretch, the old guy was in tears.  It was a wonderful feeling to see him win...for what he claimed "may be my last Derby".

Also, there was a tremendous amount of discussion about which prep race(s) were significant and which were not, but it is obvious now that the Louisiana Derby had the "best" horses with Nehro and Mucho Macho Man coming in second and third in both the LA Derby and Saturday.

Lastly, I will be at the Preakness to watch our Georgia owned Mucho Macho Man run. Please continue with your stories and information over the next few weeks.  You are the best.

10 May 2011 9:11 AM
Love 'em all

Mr. Haskin, this reader looks forward to your titles almost as much as your stories ... and with good reason.  You've never disappointed me.  This story proves it too.  <laughing>  

As others have commented, you really are the best.  Thank you for all your contributions to this year's KD ... and making it one of the best.

10 May 2011 9:45 AM
Danny UK

Nice summary there.

I knew there would be a good horse lurking in there somewhere, and I think Animal Kingdom may be above average, even for a Derby winner.

Delighted with Master of Hounds effort. I think his run, has reaffirmed my opinion that he'll show his best over extreme distances. I would't be at all surprised if he were to return to America for the Belmont stakes, or perhaps the St. Ledger in England over 1mile 7 furlongs, of whats likely to be very soft ground (it rains here alot in October). He's not a bad bet for either.

In future years I think he may be even be aimed at the Ascot Gold Cup over 2 miles 4 furlongs. I really think he's a serious stayer.

Who knows how good ArchArchArch and Uncle Mo would have been if fit, but I think it would have taken a serious horse to get past Animal Kingdom that day.

Whilst I don't rate Animal Kingdom in anywhere near the same light as Seattle Slew or Secretariat, I suppose the question has to be asked: Can he win the Triple Crown?

Well, A.K put a few rounds (ha) in some lofty reputations there, and with Mo and Arch out, I'd say he could easily be good enough, because of the lack of decent opposition, and I think he looks half decent.

Steve, give me a number:

What odds would you take on him winning the Triple Crown?


10 May 2011 9:47 AM
Sue MacGray

Great story Steve. Unfortunately, I missed lots of the comments that commentators and interviewees made on TV because we were at a Derby Party, which meant we could SEE everything, but not hear a jot of it, until the race started and the throngs calmed down so we could hear the call. As a neo-bettor, I made some tiny bets but my last one was on AK to win :) I guess his limited but always in the running record impressed me as well as comments by those who had watched him work coming up to the big race.

I was upset about AAA and am so glad he survived the race. And I was wondering (after hearing about his fracture and then the Battle of Hastings) if all of the care and research inspired by Barbaro, isn't helping these two horses now. It seems so from what I've read thus far.

Thanks for a wonderful article. I'm sticking with AK for the Preakness, but like Shackleford and DI for that one as well. And Nehro is the real deal too, or so it appears.  

10 May 2011 9:58 AM

Of course we feel bad for Albarado, but it's not as if he was AK's regular rider.  He had ridden him once before, Alan Garcia had the mount in the Spiral.  I can't imagine they wouldn't keep JV on him for the Preakness.

10 May 2011 10:00 AM
Zen's Auntie


What an awesome recap - Thank you. Once again bringing life to the racing and racing to life - I count on you to keep filling my heart with the human interest end of the sport I love.  In addition to excellent race evaluation.

Animal Kingdon is a Versatile Masterpiece and a tribute to what good training can do for a talented critter.  

COngrats to Motion, Team Valor, Johnny V and everyone involved from stall cleaners on up, and mostly to the lanky Chestnut himself.  

I get the feeling this crop could be the one to let a TC winner slip by.

The whisper of a TC possibility and the overall feelgood AK story has my enthusiasm up DESPITE my crushed and broken heart at the injury of Archarcharch. It was painfully obvious something was desprately wrong from the get go.

The sport with the highest highs and lowest lows HAS to be TB racing.

I liked the Larry Jones to Jinx Fires Quote best:

"at least you got to feed yours last night." and that somehow is (it has to be) enough.

Keep it coming Steve!

10 May 2011 10:10 AM
Pedigree Ann

I found the results of the Kentucky Derby highly satisfactory. Animal Kingdom was among the best bred horses in the field to handle 10f with aplomb. Several of the fancied horses had little likelihood of still being in the race after the 8th pole, even with a 48+ second half-mile, the slowest pace in quite a while.

I've been studying and touting German bloodlines for nearly 40 years; not only does the German breed authority ban horses who have run on drugs from having registered foals, but stallions who did not achieve a certain level of performance at 3 or older are not permitted to stand in Germany. German breeders are like the old-time American breeders August Belmont or Paul Mellon; they are still interested in improvement of the breed over short-term monetary gain. Other European countries have recognized this and have, over the last 30 years, been using German mares and stallions to fortify their stock. Arc winner Urban Sea, dam of sire sensation Galileo (a dual Derby winner) and superstar Sea the Stars, had a German dam. So did Derby winner Slip Anchor. Horse-of-the-World in 2007 was Manduro, German-bred and German on both sides of the pedigree. We Americans are late on catching on.

10 May 2011 10:45 AM

Steve, can you speculate at all on what the deal is with Uncle Mo?

And Mucho Macho Man appears to be developing into what may turn into a Zenyatta type run as he begins to mature.  What do you think?

10 May 2011 10:54 AM

One thing I noticed in the Derby, and even watching a couple of AK's other races, as soon as he's comfortably ahead, those ears prick straight up, reminiscient of Zenyatta, and John Henry, among others.  He may be green, and he may have just run the second fastest last derby half since Secretariat, but he knows when he has his field put away.  This horse has charisma.

Re: Uncle Mo....I'm very concerned.  Remember Devil May Care, Lost in the Fog, and there have been a few others.  When the best vets in the world have weeks to figure out a problem adn can't, it's time to worry about the horses REAL long term well being.  Some very major health probs will present in the beginning as mild problems that look fixable.  Been there, have had that happen more than once.  I sure hope they find the problem and that it's manageable.

10 May 2011 11:03 AM

STEVE  this is rolo as I sign up under different name but I told u in several blogs and the readers AK was going win easily and he did.

barring injury there no horse going run past AK in either of next 2 races.  he a TRIPLE CROWN WINNER.

just wheel him in prekness on top off SHAKLEFORD and DIALED IN in EXACTA for 100 dollars as i will.

10 May 2011 11:08 AM

Dialed in is not the pretender Soldat is.Who finished better and who has a chance to win the next leg of the TCS.Soldat is a turf horse his dirt victories at Gulfstream were rail skimming trips in which he beat an allowance field in the slop,and he walked the dog in the FOY.His speed figures looked good because he was on the inside and ran the shortest way around the track

10 May 2011 11:14 AM

What a great Kentucky Derby recap.  It's been a real joy reading all your articles right up to the Derby recap.  I've learned so much.  I'm hoping for a Triple Crown and a safe trip for all.  It was very sad to see Archx3 hurt and his brilliant career on the track now over.  I thought Shackelford gave his heart and my only comment to the negative was watching him get what appeared to be quite a lot of whipping by hisjockey.  I hope that can be addressed by the trainer.  Looking forward to Pimlico and Belmont.

Thank you again for bringing it close those of us who can only dream of attending someday.

10 May 2011 11:15 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Racing Gods hard at work in this one, and maybe that's why we had all of those close calls with Triple Crowns with no cigar as the Racing Gods were waiting for the name they wanted to join the others. Animal Kingdom-Our first Triple Crown winner in a zillion years-The Ruler of the animal kingdom-Animal Kingdom. I'm not predicting that he will win it but certainly he is a legitimate contender for it to add another irony to the story with Johnny V. since many were predicting a Triple Crown with Uncle Mo. Maybe they got the horse wrong and the jocky right. I'm seeing the Preakness as the big test. If Animal Kingdom passes that, get ready to celebrate the discovery of the long lost Triple Crown in the jungle of The Animal Kingdom.

10 May 2011 11:19 AM

To watch these horses this year just tells you how good Sham was, Our Native, Forego…….

10 May 2011 11:21 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

This is a truly lovely article.  Thank you for all of the background information and comments.  I had the best time watching this year's Derby and I am hoping, hoping , hoping Animal Kingdom wins the Triple Crown.

10 May 2011 11:32 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

The term recap doesn't do it justice does it? This article is another brilliant appraisal in a year filled with them in Haskin's Kingdom. From Zenyatta's Super High Five to Animal Kingdom from sea to shining sea, this is where we come for the truth, poetically and magically expressed so that we really feel like we're a part of it and living it with the connections.

10 May 2011 11:35 AM

AK was the best horse on May 7, 2011 and he got a great turf trip.He was covered up in mid pack and timed his move perfectly.Obviously he has a CHANCE to win the TC,but he is not a lock just as UM was not a lock.I will definitely have him in my tickets for the preakness,but in a value manner of betting,and whatever pools I can get that value in.

10 May 2011 11:37 AM

Even if Lenny & Steve like to poke fun at Churchill Downs there is  no denying that it is still the ultimate place where dreams can come true and Animal Kindgom proved that. Can't wait to see what those racing God's have planned for the Preakness.

10 May 2011 11:46 AM
Linda in Texas

Thank you Steve, i knew you were busy gathering the goods on the ultimate winner which was one horse that had quietly accumulated so many Derby Gods in his corner, who knew. Ah, but you did!

Just as i mentioned in one post,i felt a horse was going to win that would leave us with our mouths open in surprise and it would be one we didn't expect in like words. Except for you. You picked up on him and mentioned his excellent prep times.  

ANIMAL KINGDOM is his name. And i disagree with all due respect with RachelNH for chiding you on the title of your Article:

Kingdom Come. I think we all use little quotes from prayers be they Christian or from any religion, as we go about earning our 'daily bread.' I find it refreshing and hope you do not change your 'play on words' as you are the best at what you do. "Thy Kingdom Come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." My take on the Translation: Animal Kingdom (the horse) will do his best to win, on the track as it is in The Derby God's Heaven.  

And with Velasquez as the winning jockey only seems appropriate, he has taken some hits with the last three Kentucky Derby's and The Life at Ten blame to me was a bitter one to have to swallow. I felt that was wrongly placed. But Velasquez was redeemed in the end.

Animal Kingdom did look huge coming on the outside in full stride. It was a beautiful sight once i noticed him and took my eyes off Shackleford. And not a bad investment by Team Valor, as AK was a September '09 Keeneland Purchase for $100,000. Not a bad return on the investment at all.

And Archarcharch. God bless him. As i noticed him come out of the gate and when the camera picked him up in the back, i noticed his erratic steps and it immediately bothered me. There was something terribly wrong. His racehorse genes tell him to run, but the message was short circuited to his leg and couldn't match his instinct. Period. I hope he heals quickly and has no after affects from the surgery. Now reading he is retired. A shame.

Summation of all that led up to The Kentucky Derby, 'forget the bad, because the good that was done will live on forever.'

10 May 2011 12:01 PM
Linda in Texas

Dr. Drunkinbum, just now reading your posts, i was busy writing my own. What lovely words you have for the author of this blog. Where would we all go and how uninformed we would be without Steve and the heart of the matter?

I think Steve is entirely too unselfish to realize just how much he is thought of and respected. But you Dr. D said it like a poet and i just wanted you to know you are appreciated also.

10 May 2011 12:09 PM
Steve Haskin

Thank you everyone for yor kind words and for commenting wih the new sign-in procedure.

Dr. D, you are the greatest!

10 May 2011 12:20 PM
Karen in Texas

Dr.D----It is so true that the word "recap" doesn't do justice to Steve's writing. A couple of years ago (on this blog) I suggested that his work is akin to true literature. This Kingdom Come piece reminded me of those thoughts. My dictionary defines literature as "written works that deal with themes of permanent and universal interest, characterized by creativeness and grace of expression...distinguished from works of scientific, technical, or journalistic nature; belles-lettres." Steve's creativeness and grace of expression are second to none in my opinion.

10 May 2011 12:43 PM

Excellent article Steve (as always).

My thought is that this Derby was meant to be Johnny V's.   The circumstances leading up to his late assignment of the ride on Animal Kingdom are just about as wierd as the circumstances leading up to the last several years defection of his Derby mounts.

While Animal Kingdom ran an excellent race, I don't believe he is a great horse; I think it was finally Johnny's year to win.

I firmly believe only a great horse should win the Triple Crown so I don't see Animal Kingdom sweeping the series, but I am certainly looking forward to the running of the next two.

My condolences to the connections of the injured horses, particularly to Archarcharch who will not run again.  I've heard his injury occurred at the break; if so what a gutsy horse (and a tough one) to finish the race.

10 May 2011 1:03 PM
calico cat

"Later that evening, Animal Kingdom burst through one of those doors, and awaiting him on the other side was Kentucky Derby immortality. By powering down the Churchill Downs stretch to a 2 ¾-length victory in front of a record crowd of 164,658, the unknown had become known. Racing had a new star and a legitimate Triple Crown threat."

Mr. Haskin,

If this isn't pure poetry, I don't know what is. Goose bump city!!!

10 May 2011 1:18 PM

Steve (Wonder),

Always enjoy and anticipate your articles and just wanted to take the time to thank you. In large part you are responsible for me having the daily double and 30 dollars WPS on the 16.

As you can imagine, it was a blast seeing him light up the stretch in front of me at the 5/16th pole.

10 May 2011 1:32 PM
The Deacon

Dr D:  Wonderful praise bestowed upon a truly brilliant writer. Mr. Haskin tells a story like Rembrandt paints a picture. When I used to listen to Vin Scully call a baseball game on the radio, I always felt I was at the ballpark watching live. I could feel the energy through my transistor. It wasn't like being at the ballpark, it was better.

The same can be said for Mr. Haskin story telling. We all watched the race, heard the commentary, but when Mr. Haskin tells the story, we are somehow transported to the backstretch, paddock area, finish line or interview room at Churchill Downs. Thank you Steve for allowing us to be a small part of your world.

Thank you as well Dr. D for so eloquently reminding us just how special a writer and story teller Mr. Haskin is............

10 May 2011 1:45 PM
El Kabong

Well said again Steve.

And as it is an event bigger than just the winning connections, you do it justice by adding the many people who worked very hard in all the barns to maintain such a rich and magnificent American Tradition. And it's a damned good thing you do since the Major Television Networks have lost their good judgement. We all thank the derby gods for allowing such a talented bard to take us places and bring us stories that help us appreciate all that goes into this sport of kings. From all of us in the the cyber barns and fields, thank you for not letting this great tradition fade away. Perhaps we need to re-market the sport and call it Amish Nascar?

10 May 2011 1:48 PM

I had no bets on the Derby because I had no clue where to put my money.  While I liked Shackleford, I was unconvinced he'd get 10 furlongs.  I did watch the Irish horse, Master of Hounds, down the stretch, though, and wished he hadn't had that last "duck around" since he might have finished a spot or 2 higher.  I hear he's gone home to Ireland already, but I hope we see him on these shores again.

My niece was cheering for Nehro - saw some videos of him and loved his eye and his shoulder, so I should start listening to her!

Never saw Animal Kingdom as a strong prospect.  Always loved his sire, Leroidesanimaux, and the way he gobbled up the turf.

I didn't see all of Versus' and NBC's broadcasts, but what I was ok, but needed work.  It is hard to fill hours of tv for a 2 minute (ok, 2 min, 2 sec) event, and the stories about heart transplants and jockey changes and female jockeys were good, and better than some in past years.  Maybe I missed the wrong parts of the shows, but there were a few horses I wanted to know more about and only saw their names.

Whatever the Preakness and Belmont may bring, let's hope everybody is healthy when we're done!

10 May 2011 2:05 PM

Mr. Steve, I want to say two things: YOU GOT IT RIGHT WITH OPPOSITE GEORGE COSTANZA! Too bad I picked the wrong opposite horse! And the other thing? Your story told of all the great things that happened in the Kentucky Derby. You put in what should have been put in and left out what needed to be left out. YOU ROCK!

10 May 2011 2:10 PM

Nice article Steve.  No, I did not have Animal Kingdom - my horses shall we say finished well up the track.  But despite everything, he does look like he's the real deal.  Johnny V is one of my favorite jocks.  Way sad to see Battle of Hastings and ArchArchArch gone.  Godspeed to both of them on their recovery.  Are we looking at a TC winner - maybe, only time will tell.  I hope that everyone had a wonderful Derby Day.  Can't wait till May 21.

10 May 2011 2:11 PM
steve from st louis

Steve, would you comment on Barry Irwin's treatment of former trainer Wayne Catalano and/or Robby Albarado. I know this is a black and white game but it seems Mr. Irwin took it to a new level with his classless comments.

I understand he can name anyone he wants to ride his horses, but he puts Motion between a rock and a hard place. How long before the mercurial Irwin blows up again?

10 May 2011 2:33 PM
Soldier Course

I have to agree with the comments about Barry Irwin's remarks about his former trainers. There is a certain decorum one expects at the Kentucky Derby, and those remarks were crude and out of place. Given that it's fairly easy today to track down information on the Internet, the remarks were also reckless.

10 May 2011 2:52 PM

As usual Steve, an outstanding read from beginning to end!  When I can't be interrupted by the phone, I know I am reading something very special.  Thank you, again, for another great inside view of the race.

10 May 2011 2:53 PM
Love 'em all

May I suggest some of you google "Kingdom Come", because you're in for quite a surprise.


Not only a prayer but books including comics, music, movies and television ... the list goes on and on.  Oh, there's even a Kingdom Come State Park located in the great state of Kentucky.  Who knew, huh?

Again, I thoroughly enjoy Steve's clever titles almost as much as his stories ... and I've never been the least bit disappointed.  Keep 'em coming, Mr. Haskin.

10 May 2011 2:58 PM

I have to laugh, I threw out Animal Kingdom. I was so irate by Johnny V's ride in the Woodford Reserve that I just couldn't wager with him.

I like J.V. and he's helped my bankroll through the years.

I've watched this race several times and I don't think it would've mattered if the jockey was pulled from the grandstands at the last minute. He was the best horse and he found the best spots thoroughout the race. "The jockey's get too much credit when they win and too much blame when they lose."

10 May 2011 3:54 PM

Steve: Any news on Uncle Mo making it to the Preakness and if so, who rides him? I presume Johnny V keeps Animal Kingdom. Maybe Robby  gets the mount?

10 May 2011 3:54 PM

We indeed go to the races vicariously through Haskin's wonderful recaps.

The horses are wonderful and in Motion's case so is the trainer but the owner Irwin is really sleazy.  Having 40 different trainers in 5 years makes me wonder if Irwin will fire Motion and go elsewhere sometime soon.

10 May 2011 4:14 PM

It takes a special talent to translate a very fast athletic competition into words one can savor over and again; rare is the writer in today's 144 character world who can so involve the reader as to make the retelling somehow more alive than the actual event - yet here is Steve Haskin doing exactly that.  For this and many other gripping, thoroughly engrossing narratives, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

My dearly beloved, who had sworn completely off the sport after the loss of Eight Belles, sat through the coverage with me this past Friday and Saturday, read me follow up stories about the diagnosis on ArchArchArch as I held my breath, and said, "Well, aside from all the silly hats and stupid movie star interviews, at least there were some good stories (Rosie Napravnik among his favorites - he groaned when she lost the Oaks by just that much) and no dead horses this time."  His flippant words belie how involved he became - especially in the Oaks, I think because he got a kick out of Rosie and has a thing for underdogs, perceived or otherwise.  I suspect she will continue to be a force to be reckoned with :)  She is certainly a talented jockey and a delightful interview.

10 May 2011 4:39 PM


Thanks for an excellent recap.  I found the pedigree angle very interesting and Pedigree Ann's perspective regarding the emergence of German bloodlines quite significant.  

At last the Blushing Groom line has entered the Kentucky Derby fray.  Can we now regard Leroidesanimaux as the forerunner of the great Invasor?  The latter's progeny are eagerly awaited on the North American classic scene.

I wouldn't crown Animal Kingdom heir to the Triple Crown so quickly nor write off Dialed In's chance of redemption in the Preakness, because if Julien Leparoux had judged the pace properly he could have had a winning shot (albeit in hindsight).  If Flashpoint goes in the Preakness both he and Dialed In are going to truly test whether Animal Kingdom is worthy of Triple Crown glory.  For certain, if he passes the Preakness test (often THE Classic race of champions) there are not many observers who will be brave enough to oppose him in the Belmont.  

I found myself wondering if the connections would consider a Kentucky Derby/Epsom Derby double with a colt like this.  Perhaps he could even be pointed to an historic Arc d'Triomphe/ Breeder's Cup Classic double in the Fall if he proves good enough.  There are a few exciting options capable of setting the racing world alight if he is indeed Secretariat-esque not only in his fast closing half mile but in his transition from dirt to turf (I see oblique allusions in the recap).  

10 May 2011 4:55 PM


10 May 2011 5:00 PM
Steve Haskin

Thanks again to everyone for your kind words. Fran, I hope it wasnt an important call :)

Tracy, Uncle Mo is at WinStar trying to recover as they attempt to find out whats wrong with him. The Preakness is the farthest thing from their mind.

Steve from St. Louis, I've known Barry for a long time and I think he's as clever as anyone out there. Barry says what he's thinking at the time. That's just him. He's not afraid of creating controversy and is a man of principal. Should he have chosen that time to say that? Obviously not, but he's willing to take the backlash to say what's on his mind. He has said some things to me that I resented, but you dont dwell on it too long. He's great for the game for what he contributes and the top-class horses he buys and races, and now breeds. He is who he is. You can either accept it or not. He's not going to change. He is one of the rare owners who interacts with the fans on forums, and despite everything I do respect his honesty and bluntness in a world filled with deception. And lying to an owner is the worst thing a trainer can do.

10 May 2011 5:01 PM
Steve Haskin

Deacon, thank you very much, especially being mentioned in the same breath as Vin Scully, who I grew up listening to back in the waning days of Ebbetts Field.

Karen in Texas, I appreciate the beautiful words. Thank you very much

Zoo, thanks as always

10 May 2011 5:07 PM

Wonderful recap and human interests in your story, Steve.  Wow, where did you get the Jim Morrison quote, that was priceless.

I thought the Derby was run like a real Kentucky Derby, at last.  However, it does seem like something should be done about that number one post position.  I was on edge just feeling that AAA would get into trouble.  Can't help but feel bad for the connections and of course AAA.

On another blog, I expressed my disappointment in the decision to run Comma To The Top in the Derby, especially since his trainer said he didn't want to ruin a good horse.  Looking at the last few preps for Comma it was obvious he had distance limitations.  At least Comma didn't come out of the race with a serious injury.

I loved Animal Kingdom's run to the wire.  He looked strong.  I had a few bets and lost all of them except a win bet on Animal Kingdom so it didn't turn out so bad for me in the wager end of it.

Wouldn't it be great if this was the year of the Triple Crown.  One can only hope.

10 May 2011 5:07 PM
El Kabong

Barry's Bellow was untimely but it was a classic moment and leave it to Neumeier to reload the cannon with his question on how many had lied to him. "PLENTY!" I loved it. I may be critical of the Major Televison Networks and their embarrassing coverage of the road to the Roses, but I can never get enough of Mr. Neumeier.  Every sport needs it's share of salty curmudgeons. Thanks to Bob, at least we know who one of ours is now.

10 May 2011 5:29 PM

Barry Irwin What he said was it the truth?

It is a sad state when the truth is wrong in this country.

I would happily bring back the days of John Wayne when a man ment what he said.

10 May 2011 5:33 PM

Hello Mr. Steve Haskin, great article sir. Mr. Haskin, do you see alot of similarities in the physical appearance of Animal Kingdom(of course with blinkers off) and the great Hall of Fame champion Easy Goer. Both chestnuts with the white star,etc. Although, Easy Goer had those wicked, very problematic, grapefruit size ankles, all lumpy and misshapen looking like swollen avocados, which was graphic proof of his remarkable courage, overcoming them to be a Hall of Fame champion. Your thoughts Mr. Haskin?

10 May 2011 5:58 PM
Dr Drunkinbum


   That's a huge compliment coming from a giant Honeymooner's fan. Thanks, that really made my day. Now if you say, "I'm gonna kill that boy," in response to one of my posts I'll be able to take it. I was thinking that there could be something really special about Animal Kingdom before The Derby and on Thurs. or Fri. I was going to go back and read your article on him but it wasn't listed on the side, and I intended to go find it but got distracted and never did. That's one of the first things I thought of when he won and it made me mad that I forgot to go find it and read it. It's too bad that more aren't listed on the side for easy access. Are the Dodgers going to get paid this month? "Dem Bums" could really be an appropriate nickname although for a different reason this time. Now I see how to find the articles quickly-you scroll down to the month and click it. I probably knew that before. Darn it. Thanks for another great Derby season. Wish I could get you there for all of the workouts next year.

10 May 2011 6:17 PM

Superbly written article with tons of new information, especially regarding  the human element such as the Cordero and Motion family  connections.  Makes for great reading.

But the real eye-opener for me was the stat on the final half mile - the second fastest in Derby history?  Never would have guessed it, but hopefully that end-of-the race speed will continue in AK's future TC races.

One fact I've only once seen mentioned is that John Velasquez also rode AK's sire in the last three starts of his outstanding turf career.  Has anyone asked him to compare the two?  Has that coincidence happened before in the Derby?  Would love to hear his take on their similarities and differences he sees so far.  

10 May 2011 7:07 PM
Steel Dragon

Maragh's wandering around the stretch cost MMM second. I think this year's Derby will ultimately resemble 2005 with MMM in the role of Afleet Alex.

10 May 2011 7:35 PM

I was very discouraged to hear Robby Albarado was bumped off of the Animal the morning of the Derby, and after reading how tight Motion and JVs families are I am sickened.  Does anybody really believe they still would have made a jockey change if Velazquez didn't become available on Friday after the scratch of Mo? Motion is as big of a back stabber as Irwin in this and they will never win another Triple Crown race again because Karma is a bitch that never forgets..

10 May 2011 7:36 PM

Steve: As always, a touching and beautifully written piece.  

As AK swept under the wire, my husband and I looked at each other and said,  "So, George Costanza it is!"

10 May 2011 7:51 PM
Thelwell Pony

To Slew and GoldenBroom:

All of the Derby starters ran on Lasix, and all except AAA and Watch Me Go also used "adjunct bleeder medications." If Bute was used, it was given 24 hours prior to the race. Adjunct bleeder medications legal in Kentucky include Aminocaproic acid, Carbazochrome (Kentucky Red), conjugated estrogens, and Tranexamic acid.

You can always check the entries/racing form to see what raceday medications will be administered to each starter.

10 May 2011 7:55 PM

Beautiful piece, Steve, and I must say again that I just love yours and Lenny's bi-monthly "And They're Off" segments-most entertaining racing commentary around- deserving of a much wider audience.

As to Barry Irwin's trainer comments- I applaud him for his candor and, in retrospect, feel it was the appropriate forum for it to be voiced. Where else could it be heard by so many owners? Does anyone doubt the veracity of his statements? I don't. What he offered was an important truth-important enough that as many as possible should hear it.    

10 May 2011 8:15 PM

There were two definates about the Derby that could be learned from the workouts if you know what to look for. Uncle Mo would be scratched and AK could handle the dirt. AK might just be the one to break the drought because it takes a special horse to excell on three different surfaces.

10 May 2011 8:15 PM

Very nice recap Steve Haskins.

Has anyone heard anything about my Derby horse MASTER OF HOUNDS? His future plans? I knew he might get far behind and he did, was moving fastest of all down the lane in a very fast final half mile.

Don't overlook the very fresh and peaking ANIMAL KINGDOM in the Preakness, he's in very good hands. Wouldn't it be so crazy if this was the year of a Triple Crown winner...in the year with a very weak 3 year old crop.

10 May 2011 8:41 PM
Mike Relva


I admire Mr. Irwin for having the HONESTY AND COURAGE to say what he did. If you had a horse entrusted to a trainer,wouldn't you expect hundred per cent honesty? Can't speak for you,but I would. The guy is probably tired of being burned. If I were him,would've reacted the same way even in the setting he did,cause my entire life has been for better or worse taking no prisoners.

10 May 2011 8:47 PM
Indiana Johnny

Nice article Steve, very well writen.

Although my main bet of Soldat and Mucho macho man, didn't win, I did have some show money on MMM. And, put togther a .50cent back-up tri that hit for about $988, which saved the day.Now, on to the Preakness...

10 May 2011 8:55 PM
Paula Higgins

Well Steve, another brilliant recap again. Dr. D said it best, you are a poet. Felt terrible for ARCHARCHARCH. What a gutsy horse. They really are nature's most noble creatures. Happy for Animal Kingdom and Graham Motion. Was happy for Mr. Irwin until he opened his mouth. I think he probably regrets this statement and would take it back if he could. At least I hope so. But, having said that, I wish him the best and a Triple Crown Victory with his wonderful horse. The fact that Animal Kingdom had never won a dirt race before, and then goes on to win the Kentucky Derby, is off the charts. Pretty impressive.

10 May 2011 9:23 PM

Despite being a big fan of Dialed In's while he was in Florida, he didn't get a dime of my money on Saturday, and with good reason.   Lightly raced, with a limited foundation, a closing style, in a big field, as the favorite simply doesn't add up to good value.   That, coupled with the fact that every indication I saw, including some of Leporeaux's post race comments, indicated that his connections were merely using the Kentucky Derby as a prep race!   I know that may sound like blasphemy, but how else do you explain the incredibly light training schedule despite the lack of seasoning and a 6 week layoff from his previous race.   He was taken to the back of the pack on Saturday, in the hopes that a good closing half mile, about all they were willing to offer, would be good enough to get some part of the purse in a field they were expecting to be collapsing in front of them.  Needless to say the pace compromised those plans, but Dialed In did get his "workout" in with a closing half mile equal to if not faster than the winner is getting so much credit for. Look for a very sharp work somewhere in the next 3-4 days followed by a solid breeze next week, 2-3 days out from the Preakness and the "real" Dialed In to come storming through the stretch to not only capture the Black-Eyed Susan's, but the $5.5 million dollar bonus that has been the connections primary goal since they became eligible.

10 May 2011 9:41 PM
Mister Frisky

Right you are Steve,Barry Irwin is a straight shooter no doubt.The timing was probably not the best to rail against former trainers.The high road should have been taken,not the best time considering your horse just won the worlds greatest race,and the racing public is warming up to your horse.Also there are probably a few Team Valor alumni myself included that thought Mr.Irwin at times wasn't that truthful about some of the slow horses his partners invested in.But I'm taking the high road congrats to Barry and Jeff Siegel you deserve it.PS nice Doors reference I got another one.THE END referring to horses like Soldat.Stay  Thirsty ,Santiva,Dialed In they will not be a factor from here on out.

10 May 2011 9:53 PM

Pedigree Ann, thank you for sharing the information on the German approach to breeding thoroughbreds, I had no idea!  Do they exclude horses whose careers are shortened because they sustain injury as well as those who simply fail to perform at a certain level?

El Kabong - Amish Nascar?  LOL my funny bone needed a good tickle this evening!

Deacon, very apt comparison to Vin Scully and the experience of being there for the game, truly.

Steve, thank you for your explanation of Barry Irwin and his comment about trainers lying.  At the time I didn't really think about whether it was the appropriate setting for him to say what he did, and I imagine he didn't mean that every other trainer who had worked for him had lied to him.  I think it's hard enough to do well in this sport without the added encumbrance of not knowing whether you are getting honest information from people you are paying well to care for, condition and evaluate your horses.  I have no trouble with him opening that conversation.  Perhaps it is long overdue.

One comment on my personal favorite, Mucho Macho Man - I thought he ran well and didn't look at all used up at the finish line.  He is a lovely horse who appeared to be in terrific condition.  Kathy Ritvo did a wonderful job preparing him.  Naturally there was no way to see everything from my side of the TV machine, but I never saw him look ruffled or worried, just there to run for the fun of it.

10 May 2011 9:56 PM

Steve, thanks for another insightful Derby wrap-up.  You bring the experience of training and riding a Kentucky Derby winner right into the mind of the reader.  Your unique style of mixing in facts and figures with "the racing gods" gives us a blend of the real and the magical in the same story.  I'll be emailing this story to my friends who were at the Derby with us.

It was an honor to meet and talk to you at the Derby draw last Wednesday.  Look forward to your stories on the Preakness and Belmont.

Thanks again!

10 May 2011 9:59 PM

Mr. Haskins, Once again, thank you for a beautifully written recap of The Derby.  This Derby was so exciting, and I loved watching it.  Animal Kingdom was my pick for my very first Derby bet.  I couldn't resist him even though his chances of winning seemed small.

This year is also very special in that there don't seem to be any posters tearing Animal Kingdom and is ability to race to shreds, how refreshing!


10 May 2011 10:20 PM


I wouldn't exactly call it a weak Derby, maybe not a strong one, but certainly not weak.  There were a few horses in there that will make their mark as the year progresses.  With regards to the 103 Beyer, I guess we can thank the slow early pace for that.  AK had lots left and could have stayed with much faster early fractions, which would have given us a faster time and probably a Beyer around 110 to 112.  The exceptional final half mile I think says lots about AK, MMM and M of Hounds.  Nehro might have made his move later in the race with quicker early fractions, which meant that he might be more willing at the end instead of starting to back off, and Dialed In might have been a lot closer.  This crop might surprise us yet.

10 May 2011 10:30 PM

Thanks for what you always bring to the page...a perspective and a feel for everything that surrounds horse racing that no one else can match.  I had the pleasure of meeting you, Lenny, and "Stable Boy" briefly outside Nick Zito's barn on Wed am.  You were all very gracious to me as just a fan, enjoying the pleasure of experiencing the "backdrop" of Derby 137.  I was excited about Pants on Fire and Dialed In, and still am.  But I am so happy for Graham Motion and Johnny V., and I hope Animal Kingdom proves to be a real king on all surfaces as he goes on, which would be an exciting journey to observe.  

Appreciate the many other posts here that are both thoughtful and thought provoking.  I am grateful for a place where we can read/contemplate the heart of the matter when it comes to racing.  Thanks for being such a great "translator" of the mysteries and magic of this sport and all those connected to it.  

10 May 2011 10:38 PM

While I agree that Steve has given a nice recap to say that he put us all onto Animal Kingdom is a big stretch.  He was not even included in the April 30 Derby Dozen and was not his pick in the video.  He did write a nice article stating that he was working well but AK was never his first choice anywhere that I read.

10 May 2011 10:58 PM


Once again you write with such eloquence. I remember when I started to read you articles and was enthralled from the beginning. Your insights allow me see things sometimes I miss when I am doing my derby research. This year was no exception. This article brought my joys back to being my second favorite derby of all time(Spectacular Bid is the first derby I saw and fell in love with the race.) I watched carefully and Animal Kingdom came through for me as I won big in the derby this year. Thank you for a wonderful derby season and hopefully as i always do, see a triple crown winner

10 May 2011 11:17 PM

Kingdom Come is a DC comic book limited series, also available as a graphic novel from late 80's or early 90's.  Not exactly G-rated.  I was into Marvel, but read some DC and Dark Horse a bit over a decade ago.  Kingdom Come was also a handsome claimer that would occasionally win at decent odds.

Animal Kingdom skipping down the stretch at Churchill.  Maybe he hasn't peaked yet?

10 May 2011 11:52 PM
Mike Relva


Well done as always. Thanks for all your insight and great knowledge.

10 May 2011 11:57 PM
Mister Frisky

One more than it's lights out.Barry Irwin's Team Valor has used the games top trainers for more than twenty years.He may not have meant Pletcher or Catalano,but let me tell ya he was referring to a lot of guys that are in the hall of fame.Have a nice evening everyone.

11 May 2011 12:03 AM
Steve Haskin

IOWay, you are mistaken. I had him ranked #12 on April 23. The final Derby Dozen, written on April 30 for the May 7 Blood-Horse appeared in the magazine only and Animal Kingdom was moved up to #10. I wanted to wait to see how he worked on dirt. My comment was: "His first dirt work was very encouraging, going 6 furlongs in 1:13, final quarter in :23 4/5, and galloping out another eighth in a strong :13 2/5, getting his 7 panels in 1:26 2/5. That was enough to make him a "watch out" horse."

I also included him in my exotics box and said to make a win bet on him in my Friday column.

11 May 2011 12:04 AM
Steve Haskin

Trackjack, thanks, I appreciate that, John, and it was nice meeting you as well.

Chicagofan, nice meeting you, too. Just think, you were in the presence of greatness -- Stable Boy!

11 May 2011 12:08 AM
Steve Haskin

RJPPDP, thanks, if he can get by the Preakness, which will be a tough race and not "bounce" off his huge Ragozin number and big jump, he is the perfect Belmont horse and has a big chance to making history.

11 May 2011 12:11 AM

handicapping tells me AK won because of the Derby was run a lot like a turf race which gave AK a advantage.  Speed is necessary at the Preakness and with Dance City and Flashpoint in the race there will be plenty of it.  MMM should move forward and have first run to the finish.  With such little foundation don't expect AK to bounce right back with a top performance.

11 May 2011 12:50 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

The Deacon, Linda In Texas, Karen In Texas

   My earlier post didn't make it in response to your posts. Maybe I typed in my address wrong or something. Too bad. To make a long story short, thanks !!!!

11 May 2011 1:20 AM

Being someone who is incapable of NOT saying what is on my mind, I really appreciated Mr. Irwins comments.  And, what better venue to bring light the fact that most trainers treat their owners like mushrooms; feed them manure and keep them in the dark.  

11 May 2011 7:25 AM

Hello. I left a comment yesterday, but it was not posted. In Steve Haskin's article he states that Animal Kingdom is the first winner of the Kentucky Derby since Exterminator in 1918 with only four previous starts. Did not Big Brown win the Kentucky Derby in 2008 with only three starts? I know Steve is a good historian. I just want to make sure my facts are correct.


11 May 2011 8:54 AM


Someone had asked about Master Of Hounds.

O'Brien considering Belmont Stakes for Master of Hounds.

11 May 2011 8:57 AM
Pedigree Ann

Oldie, I can consult someone from Germany on my 'pedigree geek' board, but my understanding is that you make your mark on the GAG (official handicap ratings) or you don't stand. It's not an unattainable standard; a listed win can be enough if the field is reasonably tough. Placing in a G1 after conditions wins can be enough. But it has to be at age 3 or older; 2yo racing is not emphasized, although most classic horses do race at 2.

Since breeding is not a big business with outsized stud fees or large foal crops, a promising horse who is injured would most often be nursed back to health and returned to the track to earn his GAG rating, perhaps a year or more later. This is what happened with Manduro, who was champion 2yo of his crop. His 3yo campaign was abbreviated, so he came back to race at 4 and 5, even though he was a group 3 winner at 3. And if a horse  still can't make the grade after return from injury, TBs make excellent sporthorses; stadium jumping is the second-favorite spectator sport in Germany and dressage is major sport as well.

11 May 2011 9:24 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

My "oh no !!!" Derby Moment was hearing that Archarcharch was injured. My "fist pump of joy" Derby Moment was hearing that Archarcharch was going into surgery but would survive. Despite not cashing I was happy. I was disappointed that Shackleford got the lead so early. Even with reasonable fractions it's too tough to win The Derby wire to wire. Most of my bets focused on Shackleford being in the first three spots. I'm definitely concerned with Mo's health, and really hope that he'll be OK. Animal Kingdom, Barry Irwin, and Graham Motion have been a special treat. The Preakness will be a special race. Dialed In going for 5.5 million and Kingdom for the second leg, and he's already being crowned a Triple Crown winner if he gets the second leg. We'll see what the spoilers have to say about that. Slew or anyone else-Can you do something about The Wood curse? That is some whammy. A double whammy this year. Good luck the rest of the Triple Crown, and hope everyone stays safe and healthy. Just terrible that Michael Baze died so young. I feel for his family and all that knew him.

11 May 2011 10:40 AM

Was Animal Kingdom's final quarter faster than Barbaro's?  I have seen a few articles saying AK's final quarter was the fifth fastest behind Secretariat, Barbaro, Unbridled and War Emblem.  


11 May 2011 11:25 AM


11 May 2011 11:52 AM


11 May 2011 12:03 PM
Mike Relva


You should stop knocking AK just cause he beat you.

11 May 2011 12:29 PM

Dear Mr. Haskin,

Beautiful, beautiful column, as usual. I started following Bloodhorse a couple of years ago and have absolutely fallen in love with your writing. It's gotten to the point where no important issue in Thoroughbred racing seems to be final until I've read what you have to say about it. It was a visceral need to read your columns throughout the whole Rachel-Zenyatta ordeal, for the sake of balance and impartiality. And, of course, all Zenyatta articles by you are carefully copied and pasted into a file tagged ZEN on my personal computer.

I co-own an equine feed and supplement company in Brazil and (try) do a little writing of my own while updating the news on the company's site, and I must confess I always go to your columns, old and new, for inspiration.

Now, you brought many interesting twists regarding this year's Derby, but I wanted your opinion on something: before this year's record, the second-largest crowd in the Derby was in 1974, correct? Do you think it possible that the fact that both in 1973 (with Secretariat) and in 2010 (with Zenyatta) we had two horses dragging the general public's attention might have anything to do with that?  I would love to hear what you think.

My kindest regards,


11 May 2011 1:29 PM

Excellent recap. Been reading your columns for years, love your style.

11 May 2011 1:47 PM

As always, your wordspinning is the icing on the cake, the whipped cream and cherry on a sundae.  I love all the intimate details, you make me feel a real part of racing.  This Derby was really special for me.  I shared it with my 2 week old grandaughter.  She watched from my lap - really she did!  And I hope we share many more.  My picks were Nehro, Mucho Macho Man and Shackleford so I got it partly right.  I admit that I didn't pay close enough attention to Animal Kingdom - but my youngest daughter did.  I was really impressed with Master of Hounds too and hope he runs in the Preakness and Belmont.  

Before the Derby, I was really depressed at the general commentary that this is a weak and lackluster group.  My take is that this year is just now coming into its own - there is quite a lot of potential out there.  Animal Kingdom could surprise everyone but I expect a lot from MMM too.

Such a shame for AAA and his connections.  I've really liked Jon Court since the Jockeys show and am so sorry his first Derby was a disappointment.  Thankful that AAA is ok and also Battle of Hastings who is a favorite of mine.

We watched all the coverage of both the Oaks and the Derby - all day long.  Versus did not do a bad job and I enjoyed most of it.  One suggestion I have is that there be stories about the pedigree of the horses running in these races.  I love to know who is the sire/dam/grandsire and back.  Name all the really famous horses that will ring bells with those who only know the big names.  I guarantee more old photographs, race footage, pedigree info and history will create more interest than dumb celebrity interviews.  It's also fun to hear how people got involved with racing in the first place.

Despite all the early confusion this turned out to be a really fun and interesting Derby. It just goes to show that no matter what, the Kentucky Derby is something special!

11 May 2011 1:50 PM

Just read this from AP:

"Jockey Robby Albarado is going to get rewarded after all.

After missing out on riding eventual winner Animal Kingdom in the Kentucky Derby, Albarado is going to receive payouts from fellow rider John Velazquez and winning owner Barry Irwin of Team Valor International.

Irwin said Wednesday that Velazquez has decided to give a portion of his share of the purse money to Albarado. Team Valor will match that undisclosed amount.

The winner's share of the Kentucky Derby purse was $1,411,800, meaning that the standard 10 percent earned by Velazquez was $141,180."

11 May 2011 2:42 PM
Karen in Texas

BourbonCountyGal---Not sure about a couple of the horses you mentioned, but Animal Kingdom's final quarter is shown as 23 4/5; Barbaro's as 24 1/5 (in an article in BH by Lenny Shulman); and Secretariat's as 23 1/5. So, yes, AK's is faster than Barbaro's.

11 May 2011 3:15 PM

Without knowing it at the time, Velazquez was spot-on when he said he would "win it when he least expected it". I don't believe he could have expected it any less than this year, having had lost two consecutive favorite mounts previously AND Uncle Mo this year.

The racing Gods are truly in the mood for fun. And who knows, maybe we'll even have a Triple Crown winner, when we least expected it!!!!

11 May 2011 3:36 PM

I would just like to add, brazilian that I am, how extremely proud of my country's Thoroughbred breeding I am. The Brazilian Thoroughbred industry is having a great moment through Animal Kingdom's sire, Leroidesanimaux.

Congratulations to breeders, owners, trainers, vets and all professionals involved in Leroidesanimaux's outcome as a racehorse and as a sire.

11 May 2011 3:42 PM
Old Timer

Steve, great article and congrats on your pre-Derby article. You and George Costanza handed us the exacta on a silver platter. 5 horse box cost of $40 would have given a $300+ exacta. If only I had listened!

Great picks and great articles.

11 May 2011 6:02 PM

Dr D: Seattle Slew won the Wood and the Derby and the Triple Crown.  That's good enough to convince me that the "Wood curse" is only in the minds of folks looking for excuses.

What I find about this year's Derby is that we had a lot of good colts running, a lot of folks unsettled on any one specific winner, a lot of handicappers baffled, and no one disappointed by Animal Kingdom's win.  In fact, people seem very proud that he and Motion won the first leg, and also seem to be anticipating a Triple Crown threat.

Vanesa: I think definitely, the fans that followed Zen and RA stuck around after their retirement because their fans simply became smitten with the sport, just like the rest of us.

11 May 2011 6:46 PM

Not to sound too repetitive, but excellent article as always, Mr. Haskin!! I thoroughly enjoyed this years Derby due to the fact that there wasn't any huge standout. It was a fairly even playing field and the best horse emerged from the crowd in the final furlongs. I'm excited to see where Animal Kingdom goes from here. He is certainly a "breath of fresh air", so to speak, with his European pedigree, turf running style, ability to handle dirt regardless of that running style, and has a look about him that says "champion".

It's also a breath of fresh air to hear those somewhat blunt comments by Barry Irwin. There is a time and place for every comment, and some may say the Derby Trophy presentation is not that place, but FINALLY someone spoke out publicly about the lies that float around horseracing. I used to be an owner (had a couple of racemares) and I was flat out lied to by my trainer about the condition of one of them which ended up costing me the horse. (Sent to a new owner.. not euthenized.) The point is, it is beyond important that trainers tell their owners the truth no matter what. And it's important that owners speak out when they are lied to. Thank you, Mr. Irwin.

Anxiously awaiting the Preakness!!

11 May 2011 7:37 PM

Thanks Steve for another wonderful article. As always you blend just the right amount of information with human interest stories. Your writing has a way of making me feel like I've been right along with you for the ride.

11 May 2011 8:04 PM
Linda in Texas

You are welcome Dr. Drunkinbum.

BTW, grew up watching The Honeymooners on Saturday nights as my dad's favorite entertainer besides John Wayne was Jackie Gleason and his shows. Some may not know, but Jackie Gleason was quite the musician. I have an old album 33 speed, named 'Kitten On The Keys' that was piano and instrumental by Jackie Gleason.

Those were the good ol' days. But these are the good ol' days for the youngsters of today who are in their 40's and 50's. Cherish them.

And Oldie, you are such a sincere and lovely person. I enjoy your posts so much. As well as Dr. D, Deacon, Paula, Slew, Zookeeper, Footlick and Karen In Texas, Zen's Auntie, Mike R. and i know i am leaving so many others out, sorry. And yes, even Draynay. I love to disagree with him and have no qualms about telling him.

Steve just attracts so many neat and interesting people and i really mean that and we all learn so much from him and everyone who responds to his works of art and excellent writing style. Sometimes i think about Will Rogers, a long time favorite, when i read Steve's things, because Steve slips in little things that make you ponder a little longer just like Roger's sayings. One of which is, "A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries." I thought that goes along with the title of Steve's Article.

Thanks, Steve. Now back to square one for who, what and how for The Preakness.

11 May 2011 8:59 PM




12 May 2011 8:15 PM


Thanks for the feedback! Makes you think, though, will the race officials keep waiting for a Secretariat or a Zenyatta to come by, every 30 years or so, to bring more fans to the sport? There has to be something that can be done to increase public and awareness to horse racing, right? And I am from Brazil, so you can multiply any drop in horse racing interest by at least a hundred. In the mean time, I'm truly hoping Animal Kingdom turns up to be a real TC threat and helps keep the current racing buzz going.

13 May 2011 7:15 AM

This is how Dan Illman timed the final quarter of the Derby.


He has Animal Kingdom coming home in 24.09, but Dialed In was faster.  The slow early pace probably had a lot to do with the fast closing fractions but it's interesting considering that Dialed In is going for a major payday in the Preakness.  And look at ol' Calvin closing on that "speed pedigree" horse!  What a strange year this is.  :)

23.79 Dialed In (finished 8th)

:24.01 Twice the Appeal (finished 10th)

:24.09 Animal Kingdom (finished 1st)

13 May 2011 9:39 AM


13 May 2011 3:40 PM

it has really had an impact on me - at long last I am actually starting to understand it! I understood your writing! *having a eureka moment here!* Thank you

<a href="www.cabletiesandmore.com/wireloom.php">wire loom</a>

30 Dec 2011 12:43 AM

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