Cross-posted from the New York Times
Written by JOE DRAPE
He is the son of a Brazilian-bred stallion and a German-bred mare. He is owned by a syndicate of 20 partners led by a sometimes ebullient, often cranky former turf writer. He is trained by an Englishman who has never been cited for violating a medication rule and believes a horse should be allowed to be a horse as much as possible. No, Animal Kingdom is not your typical Kentucky Derby winner.
Major industry stakeholders have acknowledged that medication rules in the United States are out of step with Europe, Hong Kong and Australia, where horse racing thrives, and that it is time for a significant overhaul of the sport.
How Animal Kingdom was bred by Irwin and how he was managed by Motion are nothing short of remarkable in this day and age. Leroidesanimaux is an inexpensive sire with a turf pedigree, and his dam, the German mare Dalicia, had never run on the dirt. In fact, Animal Kingdom had never raced on the dirt before the Derby.
“We have not done enough importing of horses and blood lines from other places where horses don’t run on drugs, and horses’ legs are not manipulated, and horses, basically, are bigger and tougher, stronger and sounder,” said Irwin, 68, who has bought and bred horses from Europe and South Africa. “In Germany, you are not allowed to breed a mare that has ever raced on drugs, Lasix, bute, nothing. So when you buy some stock from there, you know you’re getting something good.”