The list for my favorite horses of 2013 begins with Animal Kingdom. I was at Churchill Downs the day he won the 2011 Kentucky Derby and since then he had become a favorite of mine. His odd pedigree (German dam and Brazilian sire) and versatility (running and winning on all surfaces) caught my attention.
I believe Animal Kingdom could have been one of the greatest if he had been a bit more lucky. After an injury in the 2011 Belmont Stakes, Animal Kingdom was rested for nine months and returned to win an Allowance race on February 18, 2012. Just a few weeks later he was injured again and was rested for 189 days. Despite the long layoff Animal Kingdom raced in the Breeders Cup Mile that November and finished a fast closing second to eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
This year, Animal Kingdom returned to race at age 5. He started the year by finishing second to Point Of Entry by 1 ¼ lengths in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Then, it was off to the United Arab Emirates for the Dubai World Cup. Two other American horses, Royal Delta and Dullahan, were also in the field. It was a tough field featuring some of the worlds best horses, but Animal Kingdom ran by them like they were nothing. I figured he would easily win the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June. But, Animal Kingdom was flat the whole race and never even tried. He was retired to stand at Arrowfield Stud in Australia and will be standing at Darley America next spring.