Multiple sources across the horse racing landscape are reporting on the plans for Animal Kingdom over the next nine to ten months, from race targets to stud plans. No doubt TFTribe will be along to provide his take on what this all means in terms of the pedigree picture, but for now, let's take a look at what we know:
- Animal Kingdom is currently in Florida working towards a start in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap on February 9th. [Link: DRF - Animal Kingdom starts cranking up]
- Following his run at Gulfstream, the Derby winner was expected to fly to Dubai to contest the 2013 Dubai World Cup at ten furlongs on the Meydan Tapeta surface. [Link: DRF - Animal Kingdom to prep for Dubai World Cup in Gulfstream Park Turf]
Prior to today, that's all we really knew about the plans for Animal Kingdom in 2013. Then came the machine gun-like reports from various sources, primarily the Thoroughbred Daily News and Claire Novak from the Blood-Horse, that the Derby winner would likely ship to England to run at the Royal Ascot meeting before venturing to Australia to stand at Arrowfield Stud next September.
The first thing I noticed was the tweet from Novak:
Arrowfield Stud acquires major breeding rights to 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom,will stand in Australia next year.Story to come— Claire Novak (@BH_CNovak) December 13, 2012
Then I dug into the TDN report, including the money quote of the day at the end of their article:
Team Valor will call the shots on the colt’s next two starts, to come in the GI Gulfstream Park Turf H. in February as a prep for the G1 Dubai World Cup Mar. 30. He is set to become the first Kentucky Derby winner since Silver Charm in 1997 to embark on a 5-year-old campaign. But he will not return to the U.S. thereafter. He will instead be flown to England and will be considered for a start in June or July, including a possible appearance at the Royal Ascot meeting. He will remain under the care of Graham Motion.
Irwin added that there was additional interest in the colt from Japan, England and France, all of whom showed more interest than domestic farms.
I bolded the part that caught my eye since there was rumbling from many American commentators following Animal Kingdom's Derby win on how his unique pedigree (in other words: no Mr. Prospector anywhere to be found) would play in his post racing life. According to the reports, the Animal Kingdom's pedigree was valued higher by non-American breeders than it was by those here in the States.
Personally, this news is both exciting and disappointing. Exciting at the thought of Animal Kingdom running at Royal Ascot. Disappointing in the thought that a wonderful horse like AK will stand at stud somewhere other than here in the U.S. (In case you're keeping track, that's makes it two straight Kentucky Derby winners that will stand at stud outside North America.) But I think that's more the product of Animal Kingdom's truly international pedigree and it's certainly not a bad thing to have a Derby winner as a prominent international sire, should he experience success in the breeding shed.
UPDATE: And now we have a piece from the Blood-Horse. [LINK: Animal Kingdom to Stand in Australia in 2013]
Based on the reports we have at this time, the race at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 9th will likely be the last in the United States for Animal Kingdom.
There is no word on possible race intentions following a race at Royal Ascot, but one could assume that any final race would occur in either Europe or, possibly, Australia. But that's just a guess from reading the tea leaves. It's just as likely that any run at Royal Ascot could be the last of Animal Kingdom's career. And to add one more guess to the mix (hey, we might as well speculate!), I would think the Queen Anne Stakes at one mile on the straight could be the preferred Royal Ascot spot. Or, if they are looking to go a little further, the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes at 10 furlongs.
UPDATE #2: A report from the DRF clears up why Royal Ascot would likely be AK's last start:
Following the World Cup, Animal Kingdom will be flown from Dubai to England for a potential start at the Royal Ascot meeting in June before entering quarantine to prepare for his trip to the Southern Hemisphere.
I didn't think about the quarantine issue, so, yeah, a race in June with some time in quarantine in order to stand in September makes sense.