Former Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom finished second in what is expected to be his final US race, the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Saturday.
Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up Point of Entry, ridden by John Velazquez, won the 1-1/8-mile race despite giving two pounds to Animal Kingdom, who was ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario. The winning time was 1:47.
In the Grade 1, $500,000 Donn Handicap, Graydar won by covering 1-1/8 miles on the dirt in 1:48.25.
Animal Kingdom rushed up along the rail to battle leader Salto leaving the backstretch. He then gained the advantage midway of the far turn.
Point of Entry took the lead at the eighth pole and held off Animal Kingdom as they raced to the finish line.
”I think Joel was worried the speed was a little slow, so he moved a little early, which cost us the race,” trainer Graham Motion said.
”Joel made a split-second decision, and I’m not going to second-guess him for it. If he won, he would have been looked like a hero.”
Winning trainer Shug McGaughey said he was ”a little bit surprised” when Rosario made the relatively early move to rail. He was happy with the result.
”The race was getting some publicity — the back of the Racing Form had both horses on there,” McGaughey said. ”I think we beat a quality horse. I think it’s sort of a feather in Point of Entry’s cap to be able to beat a couple of horses that were in here.”
It was Animal Kingdom’s second straight runner-up performance. He finished second to Wise Dan in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last November.
”He was beaten by a very good horse, under very awkward circumstances,” said Motion, alluding to Rosario’s early move. ”I was a little concerned that maybe he got tired, but actually it looked like he galloped out with the winner.”
Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, is expected to run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 30 and possibly the Royal Ascot in England in June.
The 5-year-old chestnut then is scheduled to stand at stud in September at Australia’s Arrowfield Stud, which recently purchased a majority interest in his breeding rights.
His racing schedule has been interrupted by two layoffs because of injury, resulting in just two starts since his only off-the-board finish, in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.
Point of Entry paid $6.20 to win. Unbridled Command finished third.
In the Donn Handicap, Edgar Prado led Graydar to victory in the horse’s fourth career start. Graydar beat Bourbon Courage by three lengths with a winning time of 1:48.25.
”I’d say it’s extremely rare for a horse in his fourth career start against seasoned horses like this to be able to do that,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. ”It’s a real tribute to the horse.
”He was laying down serious racehorse fractions. It wasn’t like he was walking the dog. He got into a nice comfortable rhythm.”
Ultimate Eagle pulled up and was vanned off in his first start since finishing second by a head in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 5.
Graydar paid $13.40 to win. Take Charge Indy was third.