IN January Peter Brant’s White Birch Farm paid $925,000 for the five-year-old Animal Kingdom (Leroidesanimaux) mare Regal Glory from the dispersal sale in Keeneland of the late Paul Pompa. A stakes winner at two, a Grade 2 winner at three, she was also a graded stakes winner at four.
Possessing a good pedigree as a full-sister to the Japanese Group 3 winner Café Pharoah (American Pharoah) and half-sister to the Grade 3 winner Night Prowler (Giant’s Causeway), Regal Glory was one of a trio of stakes winning offspring from Mary’s Follies (More Than Ready), herself a Grade 2 winner. With a price tag of $925,000, she seemed to have been very well sold.
Brant’s investment looked a little wiser the following month when Café Pharoah won his fifth and most important race after capturing the Group 1 February Stakes, and took his Japanese earnings to the equivalent of almost $2 million. Now Brant has hit the jackpot as Regal Glory herself has won at the highest grade, capturing last weekend’s Matriarch Stakes. This was her third stakes win of 2021 and she was also runner-up in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes, all from just five starts.
Before she heads to stud Regal Glory may yet win back most of her purchase price, and were she to be offered for sale she would surely double the price she brought back in January as a racing and breeding prospect.
Winner of the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and the Group 1 Dubai World Cup, Animal Kingdom stood at Jonabell Farm in the USA and shuttled to and from Australia where he was based at John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud. In October 2019 it was announced that he was acquired by the Japan Bloodhorse Breeders’ Association. Arrowfield bought the majority interest in Animal Kingdom’s breeding rights in 2012 and the stallion covered his first book of mares in Australia in 2013, making him the first Kentucky Derby winner to launch his stud career there.
The stallion then shuttled to Darley at Jonabell for the 2014 northern hemisphere season, returned three more times to Arrowfield in 2014 2015, and 2017, and spent his last two breeding seasons at Jonabell before heading to Japan.
Animal Kingdom has sired 15 stakes winners worldwide, led by Australian millionaire and Group 1 winner Angel Of Truth, who won the 2019 Group 1 Australian Derby. Last year the Australian-bred Oleksandra became the stallion’s top-level winner when she won the Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park, and now Regal Glory is his third winner at this grade.
Worldwide, Animal Kingdom’s progeny have earned almost $26 million and they also include the Grade 2 winners Wild Planet and Untamed Domain.
The homebred Animal Kingdom raced for Barry Irwin’s Team Valor International until Arrowfield and Sheikh Mohammed joined the ownership before his run in the Dubai World Cup. He won on his second start at two when trained by Wayne Catalano, moving to Graham Motion with whom he captured his first stakes victory on his second start as a sophomore.
Animal Kingdom made his first start on dirt in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and won by nearly three lengths before he ran a close second to Shackleford in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes. In the third leg of the Triple Crown, the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, he suffered an injury right after the start of the race and this ruled him out for the rest of the year. He was still accorded champion three-year-old honours.
At four he made only two starts, but they included finishing runner-up to the eventual Horse of the Year, Wise Dan, in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile. In 2013, as a five-year-old, he was second in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and then was sent overseas to contest the Group 1 Dubai World Cup which he won by two lengths. Animal Kingdom made one further start, unplaced, at Royal Ascot.
After he won the Dubai World Cup, Barry Irwin talked about the roller-coaster career of the star runner. He said: “This horse has had some kind of saga, up-down, up-down. We all knew he had a race like this in him. We saw it in the Derby, we almost saw it in the Breeders’ Cup. This was it.” Animal Kingdom went to stud having finished first or second in 10 of his dozen races and with winnings of $8,387,500.