Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Animal Kingdom has suffered an injury to his left hind leg, Team Valor International president Barry Irwin confirmed June 16.
Dr. Dean Richardson of the New Bolton Center examined a nuclear scan June 15 that indicated that something was amiss with the colt's left hock. On June 16 both Richardson and Dr. Larry Bramlage of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington examined radiographs of the hock and discovered a small fissure on the tip of the cannon bone where it joins the lower part of the hock.
Irwin said he hopes Animal Kingdom can return to training in a few weeks, but a summer campaign is almost certainly out of the question. He was supposed to make his next start in the July 31 Haskell Invitational (gr. I) at Monmouth Park.
"I would think the summer races are going to be out," Irwin said. "We'll look forward to a fall campaign."
The injury is thought to have occurred at the start of the June 11 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) when Animal Kingdom was bumped by Mucho Macho Man, causing him to clip heels with another horse and stumble badly while nearly unseating jockey John Velazquez. New York stewards June 15 handed a seven-day suspension to jockey Rajiv Maragh for careless riding for initiating the incident.
Maragh was riding Isn't He Perfect, who appeared to come over on Mucho Macho Man right after the break, which caused the chain reaction that led to Animal Kingdom’s near fall.
“It's not a major thing,” Bramlage said. "I agree with Dr. Richardson that the best course of action is to keep the colt inactive for two weeks and radiograph the leg again. In two weeks it should settle down and he should be sound again. I don't think it is going to separate, but that would be the worry.
“Right now it is a tiny crack, and technically you could call it a fracture. But I would characterize it as more of a fissure because of how small it is. He lit up pretty good on the nuclear scan. Normally, no matter how hard a horse hits his leg on the ground in an accident, there is not enough force to show this type of uptake on the scan for a period of at least 10 days.
"This tells me that, like a lot of racehorses, he probably had a little something going on in there that he was dealing with. But when he hit the ground with such force in the accident, he overloaded the bone and this is the result.
“The good news is that this should not cost him the entire season. I would hope that he would be able to return to training in a matter of weeks.”
Animal Kingdom was observed by trainer Graham Motion to be stiff the day following the Belmont and was marginally lame for a couple of days in his left hind leg, which prompted sending him to the veterinary clinic in Kennett Square, Pa.
Irwin said Animal Kingdom will remain at Fair Hill Training Center during his recovery. All things considered, he said he feels fortunate the injury was not more serious.
"I'm very relieved," Irwin said. "When Dr. Richardson called Graham after the scan and explained the possibilities of what might be wrong, and then to hear the eventuality of what the injury actually was, it was so much better. I feel like we dodged a bullet."
Animal Kingdom, by Leroidesanimaux out of the Acatenango mare Dalicia, 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 (gr. III) at Turfway Park and was runner-up in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I).