The 2013 Royal Ascot meeting is set to begin on Tuesday, June 18th with a race that's sure to draw the attention of horse racing fans here in the United States. Animal Kingdom, the winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby and the 2013 Dubai World Cup, will seek to cement his place in history in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, the very first race of this year's Royal Ascot meet.
In the past I've put together a spreadsheet tracking multi-suface winning horses with a particular eye towards those with victories on all three of today's surfaces: dirt, turf and synthetics. Since the advent of the "synthetic era" (which I simply peg as the year when Keeneland switched over to Polytrack), it's rare to find a horse that's won a graded stakes race over all three surfaces and rarer still to find one that's done the hat trick in three Grade 1 events. Animal Kingdom, with a victory in the Queen Anne, would be crowned the King of multi-surface horses.
You'd be hard pressed to find a horse more consistent in so many different kinds of races than Animal Kingdom. The Derby winner has only finished worse than second one time in his career: the 2011 Belmont Stakes where he stumbeld badly leaving the starting gate. Other than the debacle at Big Sandy, he's been as consistent as you'll find. A quick look at his race conditions throughout his career, however, confirms the tremendous versatility of this colt:
|3/30/2013||Synth.||10.0||G1-Dubai World Cup||1/12|
|2/9/2013||Turf||9.0||G1-GP Turf Hcp.||2/6|
|11/3/2012||Turf||8.0||G1-Breeders' Cup Mile||2/9|
And we should probably toss in his ability to both ship and come off a long layoff. He went to Meydan and won like he simply took a one hour van ride to the course, as opposed to the trans-Atlantic flight. In last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, after sitting on the bench recovering from an injury sustained in February, he finishes a very good second to Horse of the Year Wise Dan, and he got a bit of a poor trip, to boot. This colt doesn't just run well every time out, but he does it regardless of the conditions.
I suppose if we were to nit pick, we'd lament the fact that Animal Kingdom has never sprinted in his career. But, truthfully, I think there are plenty of horses in the breeding shed that can pass on the speed genes. The exciting aspect of Animal Kingdom's stud prospects (and I'm sure Tribe will provide us with one of his excellent stallion profiles when AK's racing career concludes) is the range of possibilities for his offspring. I imagine there are some breeders out there greatly anticipating sending specific mares to Animal Kingdom when his stud duty time begins.
Royal Ascot and the Queen Anne Stakes will be a fitting final test for this remarkable son of Leroidesanimaux (BRZ), and it will be a test requiring all his versatility in order to pass. A straight, undulating mile is as foreign to U.S. horses as you can find in today's game, providing a challenge to both the jockey and the horse unaccustomed to the conditions. The jockey inexperience is lessened due to the presence of John Velazquez, a prior winner at Royal Ascot, and perhaps the inexpedience of the horse is lessened by Animal Kingdom's proven ability to tackle anything that comes his way. We'll find out once and for all in two weeks.
Below is the tentative schedule for the 2013 Royal Ascot meeting:
|6/18/2013||2:30||G1-Queen Anne Stakes||4up||8.0|
|3:05||G1-King's Stand Stakes||3up||5.0|
|3:45||G1-St James's Palace Stakes||3yo, c||8.0|
|5:35||Windsor Castle Stakes||2yo||5.0|
|6/19/2013||2:30||G3-Jersey Stakes||3yo, c||7.0|
|3:05||G2-Duke of Cambridge Stakes||4up, f&m||8.0|
|3:45||G1-Prince of Wales's Stakes||4up||10.0|
|4:25||Royal Hunt Cup||3up||8.0|
|5:00||G2-Queen Mary Stakes||2yo, f||5.0|
|5:35||Sandringham Stakes||3yo, f||8.0|
|3:05||G2-Ribblesdale Stakes||3yo, f||12.0|
|3:45||G1-Ascot Gold Cup||4up||20.0|
|4:25||Britannia Stakes||3yo, c&g||8.0|
|5:35||King George V Stakes||3yo||12.0|
|6/21/2013||2:30||G3-Albany Stakes||2yo, f||6.0|
|3:05||G2-King Edward VII Stakes||3yo, c&g||12.0|
|3:45||G1-Coronation Stakes||3yo, f||8.0|
|4:25||Wolferton Rated Stakes||4up||10.0|
|5:35||Buckingham Palace Stakes||3up||7.0|
|3:45||G1-Diamond Jubilee Stakes||3up||6.0|
|5:00||Duke of Edinburgh Stakes||3up||12.0|
|5:35||Queen Alexandra Stakes||4up||22.0|