Sunny Skies got Darley's freshman sire Animal Kingdom off to strong start with his North Hemisphere juveniles when she won her first start by nine lengths April 27 at Keeneland. Animal Kingdom now has winners in both hemispheres.
The chestnut filly out of the unraced Marquetry daughter Skyscape is a homebred racing for Nancy Polk's Normandy Farm and is trained by Ken McPeek.
Sunny Skies is the second foal Polk bred out of Skyscape, who Kristin Mulhall purchased as agent for $50,000 from the 2003 Keeneland November breeding stock sale. Skyscape has produced seven winners out of 10 to race, including grade 2 winner Sky Cape and stakes-placed winners Reality Show and K O Love. The mare is out of Emley's Hill, a grade 3-placed winner who produced six winners out of nine starters.
Polk tried to sell Sunny Skies at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale but bought her back for $47,000. The filly was quick out of the Keeneland gate in a 4 1/2-furlong $60,000 maiden special weight event Thursday and took the field of seven other challengers through early fractions of :22.69 and :46.02. She easily pulled away from second-place finisher American Alphabet and stopped the timer in :52.33.
Sunny Skies is Animal Kingdom's first Northern Hemisphere starter. The 9-year-old son of Leroidesanimaux has three Australian-bred winners to date—Earth Angel, Platinum, and Lord Cecil.
Animal Kingdom was named Eclipse champion 3-year-old colt in 2011, when he won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) in his first start on dirt. He went on the following year to capture the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1). Animal Kingdom, bred and raced by Team Valor International, retired with five wins and five seconds from 12 starts and $8,387,500 in earnings.
Animal Kingdom entered stud at John Messara's Arrowfield Stud in Australia, where he stood for AU$38,500. Darley at Jonabell launched Northern Hemisphere breeding career, then shuttled him back to Arrowfield in 2014. The sire spent the last three years standing exclusive at Darley. HIs 2017 fee is $30,000.