Horse Racing: Animal Kingdom going to stud in Australia

Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby champion and runner-up to Wise Dan in last month's Breeders' Cup Mile, will begin his stud career in Australia after the 2013 racing season, his owner said Friday.

The colt, trained by Graham Motion and owned by the Team Valor group led by Barry Irwin, is set to return to racing at the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February and the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 31.

After a possible race in England, Animal Kingdom will journey to Arrowfield Stud in Australia, whose owner John Messara purchased a majority interest in the colt's breeding rights.

"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," Messara said.

"He is already rated among the world's elite turf milers and has the potential to become a global superstar in 2013."

While the stud plan might cut short Animal Kingdom's career, it will bring a return for his investors and begin a breeding legacy expected to be a strong one.

"Originally it was our intention to race Animal Kingdom for the entire 2013 season," Irwin said. "However, the prospect of getting the support of John Messara's Arrowfield Stud was so meaningful that I advised my partners to sublimate their fun and take the deal.

"It's 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 I was going to pass up this opportunity."

Animal Kingdom, who was idle for seven months before his Breeders' Cup run, had an easy workout this week in Florida.

Animal Kingdom won the 2011 Derby in only his fifth career start, doing so as a 20-1 longshot and after a six-week layoff.

Not since Exterminator in 1918 had a horse won the Derby after so few career starts and not since Needles in 1956 had a horse won the Derby after a six-week layoff.