Derby Winner Animal Kingdom Out for the Year

After examining a second set of X rays, it was determined that the leg injury suffered by Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands winner Animal Kingdom was more serious than initially thought and he will not race again this season, Team Valor International president Barry Irwin said June 29.

The left hind leg injury, which is believed to have occurred at the start of the June 11 Belmont Stakes, was initially diagnosed June 15 as a small fissure on the tip of the cannon bone where it joins the lower part of the hock. At the time, Irwin and trainer Graham Motion were hopeful Animal Kingdom would be able to make a return to racing in the fall. But after veterinarians re-examined him earlier this week, a more severe problem was detected.

"A second set of films has revealed a slab fracture just above the small fissure noted in the previous images," said Irwin, who consulted veterinarians Dean Richardson, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, head of surgery at the George D. Widener Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., and Larry Bramlage, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, a surgeon and partner at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky.

Richardson will insert a screw to compress the fracture June 30, after which Animal Kingdom will do 90 days of rehabilitation at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md., first in Team Valor's own barn and then on a water treadmill at Bruce Jackson's equine therapy unit.

Irwin said he was disappointed but not surprised by the news.

"I didn't believe (the initial diagnosis) and neither did Graham," said Irwin. "(Animal Kingdom) has been lame every day and it hasn't gotten any better."

Rehabilitation plans call for Animal Kingdom to rest for four to six weeks, after which he will walk on the water treadmill until 90 days have elapsed. Irwin said he will be off at least three months before returning to training at Fair Hill.

Though he has fielded offers for Animal Kingdom, Irwin said there have been no serious talks to sell or retire the colt. He still believes the 3-year-old son of Leroidesanimaux has a bright racing future ahead of him.

"This is a very minor thing," Irwin said. "We don't even have to do surgery, but the reason to do it is because it will cut the recovery time in half. I'd like to race him at 4 and 5."

The initial plan is for Animal Kingdom to return to training in early winter at Fair Hill before eventually being sent to Florida. Irwin said his major goal is to have him ready for the Dubai World Cup in March 2012.

At the start of the Belmont Stakes, Animal Kingdom was bumped by Mucho Macho Man, causing him to clip heels with another horse and stumble while nearly unseating jockey John Velazquez. After the poor start, Animal Kingdom finished sixth in the third leg of the Triple Crown.

Out of the Acatenango mare Dalicia, Animal Kingdom is 3-3-0 from seven starts with earnings of $1,938,700. In addition to the Kentucky Derby, he won the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky and was runner-up in the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown..<

About the Author

Jason Shandler

Jason Shandler is a staff writer for The Blood-Horse magazine.

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