“It was a tough call because I really like Robby. He’s won a lot of races for us, but we got 20 partners in this horse,” Irwin said. “We got a large investment and I had to do what I thought was best for the partnership.”
Like his jockey, trainer Graham Motion got lucky, too.
His top Derby horse, Wood Memorial winner Toby’s Corner, never even made it to Louisville. He had a leg injury and never left Motion’s barn in Maryland.
“Somebody said, ‘Are you surprised to win with a second-tier horse?’” Motion said. “I said, ‘I’m not sure we would categorize him as a second-tier horse.’ He’s been an extraordinary horse to train. I was so impressed with how he handled everything.”
Dialed In went off as the 5-1 favorite for two-time Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito, but finished eighth.
Mucho Macho Man’s finish for Kathy Ritvo tied her for second-best result by a female trainer in the 137-year-old race. Shelley Riley saddled Casual Lies to a second-place finish in 1992.
Rosie Napravnik was ninth aboard 8-1 second choice Pants On Fire in her bid to become the first female jockey to win. Still, her finish was the highest of the six women who’ve ridden in the Derby.
“I couldn’t have wished for a better trip,” she said.
Animal Kingdom won the Spiral Stakes on the synthetic surface at Turfway Park in his previous start. Though this was his first race on dirt, the winner had an easy trip, and Velazquez did a masterful job despite his unfamiliarity with the horse. They avoided trouble in the 19-horse field while running in the middle of the pack most of the way.
“Right about the quarter-pole he got really comfortable as soon as he got to the clear,” Velazquez said. “He gave me that feeling that, man, he was running. He got to the lead and kept running. So very proud of the way he did everything.”
Animal Kingdom swept past the leaders on the final turn and came flying home.
“I didn’t have to do very much,” Velazquez said. “He was going well the whole way around, so he gave me a lot of confidence to be where I was and when I asked him to do something he was there for me. A good horse gets you out of trouble.”View Entire Story
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