Animal Kingdom joins Visionaire as the second horse that owner
Team Valor International has started in the Kentucky Derby.
Visionaire finished 12th in 2008.
Team Valor has had tremendous success, both in the US and aboard with their
acquisitions. They are the most successful stable of partnership owned racehorses.
At the helm calling all the shots is Barry Irwin. He has established Team Valor as
one of the most accomplished racing stables among all types of owners. Irwin
knows where to get horses and where to run them. He selects all of Team Valor's
racing stock without the need for consultants.
Animal Kingdom is just one of their many success stories. He has shown steady
improvement in all four starts. As a result of his outstanding distance pedigree,
Team Valor wasted no time entering him at two turns in his first career start at
Arlington last September. In an off the grass race, Animal Kingdom sustained a
strong closing rally from dead last to be a clear second despite having traffic
problems. It is interesting to note that Animal Kingdom did not race on lasix that
He wasted no time breaking his maiden thirty five days later at Keeneland at 1 1/8
miles receiving lasix for the fist time. Animal Kingdom showed much more early
speed. He stalked the pace in second position, took the lead at the top of the
stretch, and drew away from eleven rivals with a 3 ¼ length victory.
Animal Kingdom was given the winter off. He resurfaced on March 3 at
Gulfstream Park with a trainer change from Wayne Catalano to Graham Motion.
Entered on grass for the first time, Animal Kingdom broke from a tough outside
post. He broke awkwardly, but quickly recovered to race in perfect striking
position. He continued to have dead aim on the leader through the stretch, but fell
short by a neck. It was an excellent return to the races. Animal kingdom was
running a mile, which is too short a distance for him to be at his best, but a great
starting point to his three year old campaign. Needing Graded stakes earnings to
have any chance of starting in the Kentucky Derby, Animal Kingdom was entered
in the Grade 3 Spiral at Turfway Park twenty three days later. A change of tactics
was employed. Similar to his debut, he was allowed to drop back to last place in a
field of eleven. Animal Kingdom made a strong middle move into the fastest part
of the pace. New rider Alan Garcia then angled him wide into the stretch to take


The million dollar question that Team Valor and Motion had to answer was if
Animal Kingdom would be able to transfer his steadily improving form to dirt. You

had to go back to the spring of 2010, several months before making his first career
start, when Animal Kingdom breezed on the dirt at Adena Springs training track
near Ocala Florida. This was where he was broken and trained by Randy
Bradshaw, one of the very best in the game at developing yearlings. Once Animal
Kingdom made his first start, until one week ago, he had not raced or worked on
the dirt. A start in the Kentucky Derby or the American Turf one day earlier
would be decided right after Animal Kingdom worked six furlongs on dirt at
Churchill in company with stable mate Meistersinger, who had run a huge race in
very fast time breaking his maiden at Gulfstream first time out. He had proven to
be a very good work horse, which was a good test for Animal Kingdom who he
spotted his mate three lengths at the start. Both colts raced as a team to the top of
the stretch. Robby Albarado who was aboard Animal Kingdom, tapped his right
flank a couple of times, and he quickly distanced himself from Meistersinger by
eight lengths at the wire. His six furlong time of 1:13 breezing was just what the
doctor ordered. He galloped out 1:26 2/5 for seven furlongs and then finished up
his work at a mile, running his last 1/8th of a mile in: 24 flat. This workout was far
better than the disappointing one he had a week earlier which was also in
company. Robby Albarado who was aboard for the work, had only ridden Animal
Kingdom once before in his maiden score. Albarado told Barry Irwin that he was
very impressed by the way he handled the track. Now that Animal Kingdom passed
a big test, the question is if you can equate an impressive workout in the morning
to a strong performance against nineteen rivals in the Derby.
Animal Kingdom has an outstanding distance pedigree. Even though his father
Leroidesanimaux was an Eclipse Award champion on the grass, he has sired
Always A Princess and Gabby’s Golden Gal, who were both multiple stakes
winners on the dirt over a distance of ground. Leroidesanimaux family includes
names like Candy Stripes, Invasor, who won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic, and
Candy Ride, all who excelled on dirt at the highest level. Going back several
generations on Animal Kingdom’s mother’s side, there is an abundance of stakes
winners on grass who could run all day. But buried deep into her pedigree was one
horse, who was a champion on dirt. His name was High Gun, winner of the 1954
Belmont stakes.
I feel this is the weakest field that I can recall ever assembled for the Kentucky
Derby, with so many short priced horses losing key Derby preps. A “wild card” like
Animal Kingdom, who you know will relish the 1 ¼ mile distance, and could end
up the last man standing, must be considered a major player and a danger to win
the Kentucky Derby. I have so much respect for Barry Irwin and Graham Motion,
that if they both have decided to run, it is a huge vote of confidence. Like many
others in the field, it is a guess how he will handle a wet track if confronted with


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Curriculum Vitae et Studiorum Giorgia Committeri Date of birth: 14/04/1974 Nationality: Italian Academic Researcher in Psychophysiology University: “ G. d’Annunzio ” (Chieti) Phd: Cognitive Neuroscience Date: April 2003 University: “ La Sapienza ” (Rome) Thesis title: Neural basis of spatial localization in the human brain: investigations wit

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