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Animal Kingdom fades to 11th at Royal Ascot in final race
ASCOT, England — Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom was unable to go out a winner, fading quickly and finishing 11th in the Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday in his last race before retirement.
Animal Kingdom, the 5-4 favorite, had a mediocre start and was no factor in the prestigious race — a straight mile on a humid opening day of the Royal Ascot meet.
Animal Kingdom won the Derby in 2011 and the $10 million Dubai World Cup this year. The previous time a Derby winner ran at Ascot was in 1936 when Omaha, the 1935 Triple Crown winner, finished second in the signature Gold Cup race.
Declaration of War won the Queen Anne by three-quarters of a length. The horse, ridden by Joseph O'Brien and trained by Aidan O'Brien, finished ahead of Aljamaaheer and Gregorian in the field of 13.
In the St James's Palace Stakes, Dawn Approach won in a photo finish with Toronado. Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said Dawn Approach's win will help restore the stable's image following a doping scandal that led to an eight-year ban in April for one of its trainers, Mahmood Al Zarooni.
"This is the biggest race of the whole week and it matters," he said. "It is massively important and massively important to Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin. I can't describe how great this win feels right now. It's a great day in Godolphin's history."
In the Queen Anne, Animal Kingdom jockey Johnny Velazquez says his horse didn't relax.
"When I let him go, he didn't come up with any run at all," he said. "I rode him out to the wire, but there was no point. Everybody was getting away from him. He just didn't have anything. He didn't have it at all."
Maryland-based Animal Kingdom trainer Graham Motion says things didn't look good right from the start.
"It was an awkward post and Johnny had trouble getting him to settle," Motion said. "I don't want to offer too many excuses because he has trained perfectly for the race."
After the traditional procession down the course led by Queen Elizabeth II, a minute's silence was held for Henry Cecil, the renowned trainer who died last week at 70.
Knighted by the queen in 2011, Cecil was a champion trainer in Britain 10 times. He capped his career by training one of racing's great horses, Frankel, who was retired last year after winning all 14 of his races.
By Tammy Bruce
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