Kentucky Derby rollercoaster ride

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Animal Kingdom’s win provides another thrill

“You should do one more chapter.” Adrian Rolls called me Saturday evening on his way back from Belmont Park, amazed like everyone else.


Trainer Graham Motion’s assistant, Rolls went to New York to run Daveron on the Beaugay. She won the Grade III stakes, but wasn’t the stable’s Saturday highlight – that belonged to Animal Kingdom, who made history in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

I spent three weeks with the Motion barn following Kentucky Derby hopeful Toby’s Corner only to have the horse get hurt the day before he was to ship to Churchill Downs. Nowhere have the ups and downs of racing been more on display than they were this week. Rolls, Motion and the rest of the team at Fair Hill rolled with a big punch when reality hit and the truck left without their Derby horse.

And four days later, the stable’s other Derby horse – Animal Kingdom – flew down the stretch to win the $2 million race for owner Team Valor International. Part of Motion’s Florida/Kentucky string this winter and spring, Animal Kingdom prevailed in a field of 19 at odds of better than 20-1.

Rolls watched from the tack room of Belmont trainer David Donk, and thought about all they’d been through – this week, this month, over the years. It hit him on the drive home.

“I was thinking about that last column you wrote,” Rolls said of the May 5 entry in the Toby’s Corner journal. “What horses put you through . . . people just don’t know, they just don’t know.”

Yes we do.


*PHOTO: The Fair Hill Department of Natural Resources wished Animal Kingdom luck in the Derby.