04/04/2013 5:00AM

Animal Kingdom to stand Northern Hemisphere season at Darley

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Andrew Watkins
Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom will stand the Northern Hemisphere breeding season at Darley's Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky.

Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom will stand the Northern Hemisphere breeding season at Darley’s Jonabell Farm in Lexington, Ky., after the international breeding operation bought an interest in the horse.

Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s Darley, which acquired a 29 percent interest in the 5-year-old son of Leroidesanimaux, will partner with John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud near Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, where Animal Kingdom will enter stud for the 2013 Southern Hemisphere season. Arrowfield had acquired a majority interest in breeding rights to the horse from owner Team Valor International last fall.

“Animal Kingdom is outstanding,” Darley chief operating officer Oliver Tait said. “Not only is he immensely talented, he has shown a rare ability to excel on turf, synthetic and dirt and win at a range of distances up to the mile and a quarter of the Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Cup. His World Cup win at Meydan [Racecourse] last Saturday [March 30] was all class.”

Animal Kingdom struck the lead turning for home and held off a late charge from Red Cadeaux to win the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race, by two lengths. It was the first World Cup win by an American-based horse at Meydan, which features a synthetic Tapeta Footings surface and opened in 2010; California-based Well Armed won the World Cup on dirt at Nad al Sheba in 2009. The victory, Animal Kingdom’s fifth from 11 career starts, sent his earnings to $8,387,500.

“We are delighted to partner with Darley in the ownership of Animal Kingdom and management of his future international stud career,” Messara said. “We have always had a great working relationship with Darley and have the utmost respect for Sheikh Mohammed and the Darley management team. With our unprecedented combined support, Animal Kingdom will have every opportunity to develop from a champion racehorse into a champion sire.”

Team Valor stated via social media that the group will maintain "a significant minority interest" in Animal Kingdom. 

"Team Valor is thrilled to have titans of the breeding industry, Darley and Arrowfield, as partners in Animal Kingdom's stud career," Team Valor posted on its official Twitter account.

Team Valor chief executive officer Barry Irwin said last fall that the group plans to form broodmare partnerships to breed to Animal Kingdom, with plans to campaign his offspring around the world.

“[Team Valor] is committed to Animal Kingdom's stud career, [and is] currently stocking up on broodmares for him,” Team Valor posted on its Twitter account March 29.

Animal Kingdom will be flown from Dubai to England on April 6, where he could make one more start at the famed Royal Ascot meeting in June, which would make him the first Kentucky Derby winner to compete there since Omaha in 1936. Possibilities include the Queen Anne Stakes or the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, both Group 1 events, on June 18 and 19, respectively. He will then enter quarantine to prepare for his trip to the Southern Hemisphere.

Animal Kingdom, who is trained by Graham Motion, won the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes on Polytrack at Turfway in March 2011 before capturing the Kentucky Derby in his first start on conventional dirt. Animal Kingdom finished second to Shackleford in the Preakness and then sixth in the Belmont—the only unplaced outing of his career—after being severely bothered at the start. He emerged from the race with a season-ending fracture in his right hind leg, but still took home the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old male.

Animal Kingdom returned to the races to win an allowance on the turf at Gulfstream in February 2012, but was forced to miss that spring’s Dubai World Cup after suffering an injury in a workout. Away from the races for nearly nine months, he finished a fast-closing second last November to eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita.

The horse finished second to Point of Entry in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February in his prep for the World Cup.

Animal Kingdom is out of the Group 3-winning Acatenango mare Dalicia.