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Kentucky Derby Winner Looking to make History at Ascot

Added on: June 25, 2013

Animal Kingdom is the first Kentucky Derby champ to make it to the Royal Ascot in more than seven decades, 77 years to be precise. The last Kentucky winner was in fact a horse called Omaha who ran in the 1935 race at Churchill Downs. That horse then went on to win the US Triple Crown.

Riding Kingdom Come this year is 41 year old Johnny Velazquez, a jockey otherwise known as ‘Johnny V’. Speaking about his horse, the jockey said, “He is a special horse for all of us. Horses that can win on all surfaces don't come that often and for him to do it at the highest level is incredible. He definitely has special ability to have done the things he has with all the problems he has had.”

He also went on to say, “He can do it on the pace and off the pace, on grass or dirt. He has strengths at every level. But a straight mile is something American horses are not used to. That will probably be the most challenging thing other than the horses we are going to run against.

American horses are taught when to switch their lead legs. They know they are going on the right lead straight away and then switch to the left lead on the turn and back to the right lead down the stretch. Hopefully he can adapt and demonstrate to the world how good a horse he is.”

Animal Kingdom became the first ever horse to win the prestigious Kentucky Derby without ever having raced on a dirt surface before. So far, Animal Kingdom has run on 11 separate occasions, recording 5 wins and 5 second place finishes.

The two most notable victories for this horse came in 2011 at the Kentucky Derby and also in the more recent 2013 Derby World Cup. Animal Kingdom has won a grand total of £5,210,584 (approximately $8,032,649.12) in prize money.

Johnny V took part in six rides at Royal Ascot back in 2000 for ‘Godolphin’, coming in second place twice and once in third position (this was the same years as UK jockey Frankie Dettori’s plane crash). Just nine years later, Johnny V won on two different horses, which included Strike the Tiger and Jealous Again in the Windsor Castle Stakes and the Queen Mary Stakes consecutively.

“The experience will live with me forever but to win on Animal Kingdom would mean the world,” said Velazquez.