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For Velazquez, Animal Kingdom, Derby 137 Is A Wild Ride to Victory

The 137th Kentucky Derby was expected to be a wide open race before the horses approached the starting gate and it stayed that way even after the race began. Several horses vied for the early lead but as the race neared the finish line Animal Kingdom surged through the pack to take a late lead and the win.Animal Kingdom’s jockey, John Velazquez, says the horse did a great job of navigating through the crowded field. “You have to have the horse to get out of trouble and to get the spots that you want, he did that. I asked him to run and he was there for me and it’s a feeling that – it’s amazing.”Velazquez has had more than one wild ride in the past few days. He was originally supposed to ride in the Derby on early favorite Uncle Mo, before that horse was scratched on Friday due to illness.Animal Kingdom’s jockey for the Derby was supposed to be Robby Albarado, but an injury forced Albarado out and on Friday Velazquez took his place in the saddle for Animal Kingdom. “You know it’s kind of a little strange because one of our jockeys got hurt and that’s how I picked up the mount, but it worked out really well for us.”Animal Kingdom overcame an evenly-matched field and 20-1 odds to claim victory in the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby.A record crowd of just under 165,000 watched Animal Kingdom’s victory.Nehro finished second. Mucho Macho Man finished third.