Drape: No Shame in Animal Kingdom’s Defeat at Ascot

by | 06.18.2013 | 3:47pm
Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom came and saw Royal Ascot, but he did not conquer it.

“Not that there was any shame in that,” writes the New York Times' Joe Drape, who is in England for the venerable race course's 302nd meeting.  Sure, there was disappointment on the faces of the connections, including Team Valor's Barry Irwin and trainer Graham Motion, as Animal Kingdom struggled on the one-mile straightaway and finished 11th in the Queen Anne Stakes, ahead of only two competitors.

It seemed a stunning result following the son of Leroidesanimaux's impressive victory in the Dubai World Cup in March.  All signs had pointed to a career-topper of historic proportions – the first Kentucky Derby winner to emerge victorious at Ascot.  But it was a difficult proposition, not reflected in his heavily-favored status at post time.  Drape writes:

“So, the scene was set. America's horse was going to take on one of the oldest and most elegant events in all of horse racing. The morning-coated, top-hatted throngs and the bookies standing on their boxes before the odds boards were all O.K. with it. They were happy the first Kentucky Derby winner in more than 75 years had made the trip and graced them with his presence.

“And then the gates opened. Dreams are not official until your horse crosses the finish line ahead of the others, which is why they run the races in the first place.”

Read more at the New York Times

Click here to view the Times' photo essay, A Day at Royal Ascot

  • Richard C

    Show me an athlete who can leave the stage on top of the world and you have one of a select few. Heck, Ali badly lost the final two fights of his career….and he’s still “The Greatest”.

    • nu-fan

      Good perspective!

  • hadrianmarcus

    I remember watching Frankel’s amazing wins at the Arc and in Dubai. No wait, he never left Britain. Not once. Today….should be a reminder of how special and rare horses like Goldikova are. And Animal Kingdom owners have nothing to apologize for. They made the effort…let’s hope today’s result doesn’t scare others from trying as well.

  • Ida Lee

    Animal Kingdom took his connections and fans on some wild and exciting rides. He’d get hurt, he’d get over it and come back and thrill us again. What a heart!! Thank you so much pretty boy. We’re all proud of you and you don’t have anything to prove to anybody. You are loved by your legions of fans who cannot wait to see your babies.

  • David

    Credit for the attempt, certainly more than most have over the past 50 years. Racing is a microcosm of how (much of) the US views the rest of the world – it’s under the misinformed
    opinion the world revolves ‘round the ole stars ‘n strips. Fact is we can’t go to other’s back yard and find anywhere near the success the rest of the world has accomplished in the BC.

    • Canarse

      Good job turning this from a story about a very good horse into a forum for you express your opinion about how others aren’t as wise as you.

    • Kris

      Why don’t more U.S. based runners run at Royal Ascot? Probably because the only reason to do so would be for the prestige as it wouldn’t be for the purses. Don’t get me wrong, the purses at Ascot are quite good, however, there are a whole bunch of races here in the states (dirt, turf, and synthetic) that are worth as much or more all within a month or so of the Ascot meet. Why ship across the ocean blue to run for the same purse? That makes no sense. Why do Euros ship over for the BC? There are 26.5 million reasons for that. Truth be told, if I had a talented grass horse I would love to run at Ascot, but that’s me. Peace.

      • Cicada

        Because with the advent of “Super Trainers”, who dope their horses, the notion of “Sport” in racing is virtually non existant.
        They have replaced horsemanship and sport, with lasix, steroids and such and the horse has become a per capita entity filling a stall.

        Winning at Ascot is an honor. Did you see Aiden O’Briens’s humility and respect at winning the opening race of the meet. Notice the stark contrast to Blob Baffert and the Preakness trophy on his head.

        You can’t buy class, it has little to do with money.

        • Roisin

          “You can’t buy class, it has little to do with money” All around good assessment.

  • Terri Z

    Barry Irwin documented in TDN’s June 19th edition the reason Animal Kingdom lost. He got lost the scent of the lone filly, Elusive Kate, and became at stud in the paddock prior to the race. Paddy O’Prado had the same problem when he was stabled next to Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness. Well those stallions certainly like the high class fillies.

    AK certainly likes the ladies and hopefully will have a great stud career.

    • Evelyn Waugh

      Hard to argue with Mr. Irwin’s observation & hypothesis.

      In the end, it is true: Biology is…destiny.

    • Noelle

      I LOVE this explanation. It makes perfect sense and no shame in it at all. I also love Animal Kingdom – it’s been such a pleasure watching him run.

      • AK Fan

        I second Noelle’s thoughts about AK and watching him run. Love that horse, can’t wait to see the little Leroixdesanimaux grandbabies!

  • Nayrod

    What, he was amazing and did his best. I didn’t like his jockey pulling on him. I think he lost his momentum and drifted back. Not too many horses race from one continent to another and win. He proved that, so he’s done his job.

    • Terri Z

      Animal Kingdom was sexually aroused by the filly, Elusive Kate. Barry Irwin saw how he acted in the paddock and went to hide. (I don’t think I can get more graphic here about AK’s “appearance”.) Animal Kingdom became rank. He is a closer and not a front runner. Johnny V tried to get him in a position to run his race, but AK wasn’t having it. AK said the heck with racing, bring on the ladies –LOL. Paddy O’Prado, who was stabled next Rachel Alexandra had the same “problem”. Poor Paddy walked around aroused the whole time at the Preakness and could not concentrate and run his race.

      • Nayrod

        The male species!!!!!! lol

  • John McEvoy

    At least they tried! Sorry to see this nice horse retired after just a dozen starts and two Grade 1 wins.

  • Matthew Martini

    Seeing AK lose his last race was a bummer, but so was watching the same happen to Zenyatta and Goldikova in recent years. I will remember their greatest triumphs fondly, not their losses.

    The connections of AK brought him back from injuries of which most Derby winners would have been retired, and pointed him to some of the most ambitious races and meets on the globe. By training him in England for months, they gave him his best chance yesterday. There were no excuses, but it does not matter. What a great horse. It has been a thrill to watch him over the years. Throughout his career, watching him race shook the dust off of everyday living. It was an event, every single time.

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