A majority interest in the breeding rights of champion Animal Kingdom , winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) for Team Valor International, has been acquired by John Messara's Australia-based Arrowfield Stud.
The son of Leroidesanimaux out of the Acatenango mare Dalicia will begin his stud career in Australia next September and will likely shuttle to the Northern Hemisphere beginning in 2014. According to statistics, Animal Kingdom will be the first Kentucky Derby winner to start his stud career in Australia.
The deal is subject to Animal Kingdom passing importation protocols, which involve blood work that should be finalized in the next few days.
The 20 Team Valor International partners will maintain a significant interest in Animal Kingdom's stud career. Most recently a runner-up to Wise Dan in the Nov. 3 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. I), Animal Kingdom is slated to contest the Feb. 9 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (gr. I) as a prep for the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) March 31.
Following the World Cup, Animal Kingdom is to be flown from Dubai to England and 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," said Messara in a statement. "He is already rated among the world's elite turf milers and has the potential to become a global superstar in 2013."
Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin has fielded a stream of offers for Animal Kingdom's stud career ever since the Kentucky Derby, in which he prevailed by 2 3/4 lengths as the first horse to conquer the classic in his initial start on dirt. He stands to be the only Derby-winning stallion prospect to race as a 5-year-old since Silver Charm, who scored in the 1997 Run for the Roses.
"Originally it was our intention to race Animal Kingdom for the entire 2013 season," Irwin said in a release. "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 was I going to pass up this opportunity."
Robin Bruss of Northfields Bloodstock brokered the deal.
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 both dirt and synthetic surfaces. The colt entered the BC Mile off a 259-day layoff and finished in front of the prominent European horses Excelebration and Moonlight Cloud.
Animal Kingdom also finished second in the 2011 Preakness Stakes (gr. I). He has finished first or second in eight of his nine career starts, the lone exception coming in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) when he was sandwiched after the break and nearly went down, leading to eight months on the sidelines with an injury. He has earned $2,327,500.