Derby winner Animal Kingdom to begin stud career in Australia

awincze@herald-leader.comDecember 13, 2012 

John Messara's Arrowfield Stud has acquired a majority interest in the breeding rights to Team Valor's 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, who will begin his stud career in Australia next September and likely shuttle to the Northern Hemisphere beginning in 2014.

The 20 Team Valor International partners will maintain a significant interest in the homebred's stud career. Animal Kingdom, who most recently ran second to Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup Mile on Nov. 3 after a 259-day layoff, is slated to prep for the $10 million Dubai World Cup this coming March with a start in the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Feb. 9.

After the World Cup, the son of Leroidesanimaux will be flown from Dubai to England and be considered for an additional start, possibly at Royal Ascot in June.

"Animal Kingdom excites us as a rare kind of athlete with a truly international pedigree who is able to express his class on a range of surfaces," Messara said in a news release. "He is already rated among the world's elite turf milers and has the potential to become a global superstar in 2013."

Animal Kingdom is expected to become the only Derby-winning stallion prospect to race into his 5-year-old year since Silver Charm, who won the 1997 Kentucky Derby.

"Originally it was our intention to race Animal Kingdom for the entire 2013 season," Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin said. "However, the prospect of getting the support of John Messara's Arrowfield Stud in the Southern Hemisphere was so meaningful that I advised my partners to sublimate their fun and take the deal. It is critically important to get a history-making stallion master behind a new prospect and in John Messara we have that.

"He has developed two of the world's most successful sires in Danehill and his son, Redoute's Choice. No way I was going to pass up this opportunity."

Team Valor will form broodmare partnerships to breed to Animal Kingdom, with the plan of selling and racing his offspring around the globe.

Trained by Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom is a graded stakes winner on dirt and synthetic racetracks and has finished first or second in eight of his nine career starts, the lone exception being his troubled sixth-place finish in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.

He has earned $2,327,500.

Awesome Feather retired

Awesome Feather, who suffered her lone career loss in 11 starts during this year's Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, has been retired from racing, owner Adena Springs announced Thursday. Breeding plans have not been finalized.

The 4-year-old began her career in the Stanley Gold barn racing in the colors of her breeder Jacks or Better Farm, Inc. After an unbeaten juvenile season in which she won the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies en route to Eclipse Award honors, the daughter of Awesome of Course was purchased for $2.3 million by Frank Stronach's Adena Springs at the Fasig-Tipton November sale.

After recovering from a tendon injury, she returned in October 2011 with an easy win in an overnight stakes at Aqueduct for her new trainer, Chad Brown. She followed that with a Grade I victory in the Gazelle Stakes over Thanksgiving weekend. Awesome Feather added two more stakes victories in 2012.

"Working for Bobby (Frankel), I was around several of Stronach's best runners, and Awesome Feather was right up there with the best of them," Brown said in a news release. "She is a rare horse to overcome a tendon injury like she did and maintain top form. She is truly special."

Awesome Feather retires with earnings of $1,912,746 and a record of 10 victories in 11 starts, her lone defeat being a sixth-place run in the Ladies' Classic.

Alicia Wincze Hughes: (859) 231-1676. Twitter: @horseracingHL. Blog: horseracing.bloginky.com.

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