Before a record crowd of 164,858 in Louisville, Kentucky, John Velazquez and Animal Kingdom won the 137th running of the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.
John Velazquez lost his mount yesterday when Uncle Mo was scratched due to a lingering infection. Today he picked up the mount on Animal Kingdom for a seemingly injured Robby Albarado. Although Albarado returned to Churchill to win the seventh race, Animal Kingdom's connections, Barry Irwin and Team Valor, opted to replace him with John Velazquez.
"I feel bad for Robby, winning the Derby when he was here," Velazquez said. "I know he got hurt. I know [he was] not on him, but I know [he was] with me."
In response to the replacement, Albarado said, "Barry Irwin decided he didn't think I was fit to ride; he didn't know my status or my situation. I'm just glad they thought of me first of all and I'll get plenty of opportunities to ride the Derby down the road and this just wasn't my time today."
Albarado was injured earlier this week when his mount tossed him in the gate and kicked him in the face, breaking his nose. He missed the Kentucky Oaks yesterday as well.
Velazquez garnered his first Kentucky Derby win in the most unlikely of situations. Fate played a huge role in this victory. Yesterday, Velazquez was sullen with the thought that he would not have the opportunity to ride in the Kentucky Derby, but today he rode into the winner's circle, tearing the roses from the blanket draped across Animal Kingdom, celebrating his first Derby victory.
The win was also the first for trainer Graham Motion who was forced to withdraw his other entry, Toby's Corner, earlier this week due to an injury.
Animal Kingdom finished the 1 1/4-mile race in 2:02:04 on a track labeled fast. Nehro, whose only win this year was a maiden race, finished 2 3/4 lengths back in second, a neck in front of third-place finisher Mucho Macho Man.
Animal Kingdom returned $43.80, $19.60, and $13.00. Nehro paid $8.80 and $6.40. Mucho Macho Man paid $7.00 to show. The exacta returned $329.80 for a $2 wager, and the $2 triple paid $3,952.40. The $2 superfecta paid $48,126. The Derby Future Wager Pool 1 paid $6.20 as an all others wager, Pool 2 paid $9.40, and Pool 3 paid $64.40.
Archarcharch suffer su suffered a lateral condylar fracture at some point after the race. Jockey Jon Court dismounted on the clubhouse turn. Veterinarian Larry Bramledge discovered that Archarcharch, who finished 15th, would require surgery, but said a full recovery was possible.
The complete order of finish was: Animal Kingdom, Nehro, Mucho Macho Man, Shackleford, Master of Hounds, Santiva, Brilliant Speed, Dialed In, Pants on Fire, Twice the Appeal, Soldat, Stay Thirsty, Derby Kitten, Decisive Moment, Archarcharch, Midnight Interlude, Twinspired, Watch Me Go, and Comma to the Top.
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby