Updated on 06/21/2013 9:13AM

Royal Ascot: Animal Kingdom soundly defeated in Queen Anne


Animal Kingdom won the 2011 Kentucky Derby in his first dirt start, and he traveled halfway around the globe to memorably capture the $10 million Dubai World Cup in March, but he could not conquer his latest new world, England, clunking home 11th of 13 on Tuesday at Royal Ascot as Declaration of War won the Group 1, $311,000 Queen Anne Stakes.

Animal Kingdom and John Velazquez raced prominently for the first half of the one-mile Queen Anne, but dropped tamely away when the race’s tempo quickened.

“It took the wind out of our sails,” trainer Graham Motion said. “There was a lot of hope for this race.”

Animal Kingdom would have been the first American-trained Queen Anne victor, but the winning Coolmore silks worn by Joseph O’Brien on Declaration of War were a much more familiar sight. While the young O’Brien won his first Queen Anne, Declaration of War gave his father, trainer Aidan O’Brien, his third victory in the race, and Coolmore connections have owned at least part of four Queen Anne winners.

Declaration of War has U.S. ties: His breeder and co-owner is Joseph Allen, a New York native with a residence in Florida, and Declaration of War, a son of the American stallion War Front, was bred in the U.S. After making two starts in France in 2011, Declaration of War apparently spent a brief period in Florida, posting a half-mile workout at the Palm Meadows training center on Feb. 5, 2012.

But it was not until September 2012 that Declaration of War made his 3-year-old debut, showing up in Ireland under O’Brien’s care. He had won three races in a row before checking in fifth of 12 making his Group 1 debut May 18 at Newbury in the J.T. Lockinge Stakes.

That performance was a disappointment, but validation of Declaration of War’s perceived talent came Tuesday when he bulled between Elusive Kate and Libranno in the final furlong, outfinishing Aljamaaheer by three-quarters of a length. Gregorian was another half-length back in third, followed by his stablemate Elusive Kate. Winning time for the straight-course mile on good going was 1:38.48.

More than 11 lengths behind the winner came Animal Kingdom, whose excellent career apparently concluded on a sour note. Breaking from the outside stall, Animal Kingdom tugged hard on Velazquez’s reins during the early going, failing to find cover while racing in fourth and fifth position.

“My horse was pretty keen and didn’t get to relax the way I wanted him to,” Velazquez said. “Finally, when I let him go, he didn’t come up with any run. I rode him out, but there was no point. He just didn’t have it at all.”

Animal Kingdom was shipped from Dubai to England in early April and had trained to his connections’ satisfaction. Perhaps it was the straight course unlike anything over which Animal Kingdom had raced, and perhaps it was his ambitious travel schedule this year, but for whatever reason the horse was nothing close to himself Tuesday. Plans now call for Animal Kingdom to become a stallion at Arrowfield Stud in Australia, and to shuttle to Darley in Kentucky during the Northern Hemisphere breeding season. Animal Kingdom’s career record stands at 12-5-5-0 with earnings of nearly $8.4 million.

Real Dawn Approach shows up

Dawn Approach, backing up trainer Jim Bolger’s bold move, bravely won the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday at Royal Ascot just 17 days after a deflating last-place finish as the favorite in the Epsom Derby.

It was clear Dawn Approach, unbeaten in seven pre-Derby stakes, was nothing close to himself racing 12 furlongs in the Derby, and the one-mile St. James’s Palace marked a return to a more suitable distance. Still, as he had in the slow-paced Derby, Dawn Approach pulled hard in the early stages of the one-turn race Tuesday, eventually settling into a decent rhythm when tucked behind the leaders by jockey Kevin Manning.

Pulled out to make his run, Dawn Approach got soundly bumped by Magician as Glory Awaits drifted out, but recovered and gamely turned back a strong late move from Toronado, who had rallied from the back of the field. It took a photograph to separate the top pair, with Dawn Approach a nose better. Mars finished third, but his well-regarded stablemate Magician was last of nine.

Dawn Approach, a son of New Approach owned by Godolphin and Bolger, won for the eighth times in nine starts, capturing his fourth Group 1 while looking like a player for the major one-mile European races this summer and fall.

Sole Power turns tables on Shea Shea

Sole Power twice was beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Shea Shea in turf sprints this winter in Dubai, but turned the tables on Shea Shea with a quarter-length victory in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes.

Shea Shea bid for the lead about a furlong from the finish of the five-furlong dash, but Sole Power, finishing far to Shea Shea’s outside, had a better kick to nab a narrow victory for trainer Edward Lynam and jockey John Murtagh.