2011 Kentucky Derby Results: 8 Things We Took Away From Event
As usual, the Kentucky Derby did not disappoint. The action-packed afternoon at Churchill Downs was capped off with a mammoth performance by Animal Kingdom to win the 137th Run for the Roses. Animal Kingdom, trained by Graham Motion and ridden by John Velazquez, will now head to Pimlico Racecourse and attempt to win the second leg of the Triple Crown.
While we continue to digest how exactly the race played out, here are 8 things that we took away from the event.
The Farther, the Better for Animal Kingdom
Coming into the Derby, there was one thing we knew for sure about Animal Kingdom: nobody was better suited for the 1.25-mile distance of the race. If the race fell apart up front, he had shown the ability in the past to step up and pick up the pieces.
Boy, did he ever.
The son of Leroidesanimoux, Animal Kingdom was bred to run as long as the race would allow him too. The question, however, was how would he handle the dirt? Before the Derby, he had run strictly on the turf as well as synthetic tracks. The fact that his bloodlines suggested he was better suited for the turf scared a lot of people off. It scared so many people off that Animal Kingdom left the gate at almost 21-1.
If Animal Kingdom can get the job done in the Preakness, the distance of the Belmont Stakes (1.50-miles) would be right up his alley and would make him the favorite to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
As Expected, the Pace Was Honest
With the likes of Comma to the Top, Shackleford, Pants On Fire and Soldat in this field of 19, it was expected that the early pace would be quick, and that is exactly how it played out.
Shackleford, Comma to the Top and Soldat held the first three positions through the first half-mile of the race and set fast fractions in doing so. They ran a quarter-mile in 23.1 seconds and a half-mile in 48.3 seconds, which was exactly what the closers in the race, like Animal Kingdom, wanted to have happen.
Although Animal Kingdom was forced wide for the majority of the race, he was able to capitalize on the fast fractions that occurred in front of him.
The Favorite Never Fired
The favorite, Dialed In, just didn't seem to have it Saturday.
Squeezed at the start, Julien Leparoux elected to guide Dialed In to the back of the pack in the early going in an attempt to save ground and let the fast pace play out in front of him. It wasn't unusual to see Dialed In in last place early on, as he usually waits until the field turns for home to really get going
However, it was unusual that Dialed In never actually got going.
He made a mild run down the stretch, but was only good enough to pass a handful of tiring horses. The favorite wound up with a disappointing eighth place finish.
Expect him to rebound in a big way this summer.
Animal Kingdom Won Despite a Troubled Trip
What made Animal Kingdom's victory even more impressive was the fact that he didn't exactly have the best trip.
Jockey John Velazquez was in a tough position because he was stuck four-wide for the majority of the race and was in the middle of a number of horses.
As a result, he had to swing six-wide as the field turned for home and then was eventually able to find some running room. When in the clear, Animal Kingdom kicked it into another gear and took control of the race.
The Inury Archarcharch Sustained Doesn't Appear to Be Life-Threatening
As reported earlier, Archarcharch sustained a fracture in his left front leg and will require surgery. Although it doesn't appear that this injury will be life-threatening, Archarcharch's racing career appears to be over.
Archarcharch's chances took a hit when the winner of the Oaklawn Derby drew the No. 1 post position earlier this week.
His trouble started early in the race when his saddle slipped, leaving jockey Jon Court unable to control the three-year-old colt. Things got worse towards the end of the race when he suffered a non-displaced fracture. Sensing something wasn't right, Court immediately tried to pull the horse up in an attempt to avoid further injury.
It was a very disappointing turn of events for trainer William "Jinks" Fires, who had an entrant in the Kentucky Derby for the first time in his career.
We with the best to Archarcharch and all of his connections.
Calvin Borel Is Actually Human
Let's be honest here: Twice the Appeal should have never been bet down to 12-1. The only reason it happened was because Calvin Borel, winner of three of the previous four Kentucky Derby's before this year, was in the saddle.
However, this year it just wasn't meant to be for "Bo-Rail."
Borel placed Twice the Appeal near the back of the field, but he failed to make up ground at any point until mid-stretch. He was 17th among 19 horses as the field turned for home, but was able to pass several horses who had nothing left in the tank en route to a tenth place finish.
Borel spoiled us in recent years with his aggressive riding style and flare for the dramatic, but just didn't have the horse this year.
Sometimes, Its Better to Be Lucky Than Good
Many people thought John Velazquez would win the Kentucky Derby this year.
They just thought he would win the historic race aboard Uncle Mo and not Animal Kingdom.
Jockey Robby Albarado was originally scheduled to ride Animal Kingdom in the Derby, but owner Barry Irwin decided to turn to Velazquez after Albarado was injured on Wednesday when he was thrown from one of his mounts. He sat out Thursday and Friday, but made it known that he would be ready to ride on Saturday.
Still, Irwin and the rest of his partners decided to replace Albarado with Velazquez, a decision that in the end payed off.
Velazquez is one of the best jockeys in the country and did a masterful job leading Animal Kingdom to the winners circle. But it isn't every day that a jockey's main horse is scratched leaving him without a mount, only to find another mount late in the week and lead that horse to victory.
And for the record, Albarado isn't happy with the way everything unfolded.
Aside from Animal Kingdom, Shackleford Was the Most Impressive Horse
One of the most impressive efforts in any of the prep races leading up to the Derby was given by Shackelford, who led the Florida Derby for almost the entire race before being caught at the wire by Derby favorite Dialed In. He flashed a ton of speed and was game down the stretch.
Shackleford, the son of Forestry, was at it again Saturday. He led for the majority of the race while setting fast fractions in the process. As the field turned for home, he was determined not to relinquish the lead. He was eventually tracked down by Animal Kingdom, Nehro and Mucho Macho Man, but didn't go down without a fight.
It was another good showing for Shackleford.