Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom will not race again this season after recent radiographs revealed the colt to have a slab fracture in his left hind leg.
The 3-year-old son of Leroidesanimaux was first found to have a small fissure in that same hind leg two weeks ago in the aftermath of his sixth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.
Though it was initially thought that Animal Kingdom, from the Team Valor stable, could recover in time to race in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs in November, a follow-up round of radiographs revealed the fracture just above the original fissure, Team Valor CEO Barry Irwin said Wednesday.
"This is a very minor thing, like a hairline fracture," Irwin said. "It's not really separating that much and it shouldn't bother him again. It's just bad timing and bad luck."
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Dr. Dean Richardson of the New Bolton Research Center in Pennsylvania will insert a screw to compress the fracture Thursday morning after which Animal Kingdom will have 90 days of rehabilitation at trainer Graham Motion's base at Fair Hill.
Rehabilitation plans call for Animal Kingdom to rest from four to six weeks. Then he will walk on the water treadmill for 90 days.
Barring further injury, long-term plans call for Animal Kingdom to be pointed toward the 2012 $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse, which has a synthetic surface. Two of Animal Kingdom's three career wins have come over synthetic surfaces. It is not decided whether he would have a race before the Dubai World Cup.
"No decision will be made for a while, but running Animal Kingdom in the World Cup without a prep is definitely something to consider," Irwin said.
Animal Kingdom followed his upset triumph in the Kentucky Derby with a runner-up effort behind Shackleford in the Preakness Stakes. The chestnut colt was sent off as the favorite in the Belmont Stakes but lost all chance at the start when he was bumped by Mucho Macho Man a few strides out of the gate and stumbled, nearly unseating jockey John Velazquez.
Although Irwin said he has received inquiries from farms both domestically and internationally about standing Animal Kingdom, no serious consideration has been given to retiring the colt.
"We've had interest from Kentucky, England, Japan and Ireland but I don't want to sell him," Irwin said. "I want to race him and keep going."