Animal Kingdom up track in finale
In the end, Animal Kingdom went out with a whimper, not a roar, struggling home near the back of the pack Tuesday at Royal Ascot in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, a race widely expected to be the last for the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner and 2013 Dubai World Cup winner.
While Animal Kingdom toiled, Declaration of War shined, pushing bravely between horses in the final furlong-and-a-half to win the first Group 1 race of his career. Trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Joseph O’Brien, Declaration of War had made his Group 1 debut to some fanfare last month in the J.T. Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, but finished a non-threatening fifth in a race won convincingly by Farhh.
Victory in the straight-course mile, the first race of the Royal Ascot meeting, gave Declaration of War, a US-bred son of War Front co-owned by the Coolmore group and breeder Joseph Allen, his sixth win from eight starts. Aljamaheer finished a solid second, Gregorian third.
For Animal Kingdom, there was no reprisal of the celebration engendered March 30 in Dubai when he successfully shipped and won the $10 million World Cup. Sent from Dubai to England to prepare for the Queen Anne, Animal Kingdom’s training had produced favorable reports, but making his first start on a straight course, he never looked comfortable in the Queen Anne. Pulling hard on jockey John Velazquez’s reins soon after the start, Animal Kingdom went along on the grandstand side of the course in about fourth position, but lost his spot midway through the race, and backed through the field as the tempo quickened.
Animal Kingdom, guided through most of his racing days by trainer Graham Motion, and now owned by Team Valor Stables, Arrowfield Stud and Darley, now goes off to stud at Arrowfield in Australia, though he will shuttle to Darley in Kentucky for the Northern Hemisphere breeding season. Animal Kingdom, a son of Leroidesanimaux, made 12 starts, won five of them, and earned almost $8.4 million while being campaigned in daring and unusual style throughout his career.