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Animal Kingdom Wins Kentucky Derby

Congratulations to Animal Kingdom and John Velazquez for winning the 2011 Kentucky Derby!

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  • (AP Photo/Garry Jones)

  • (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

  • LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) John Velazquez won the Kentucky Derby by a broken nose.

  • An injury to Animal Kingdom's regular rider, Robby Albarado, cleared the way for Velazquez to pick up the mount on the 20-1 long shot. Once he took the reins Saturday, he rode his good luck all the way to the winner's circle.

  • "For once, I'm on the good end of it," Velazquez said. "All of a sudden I pick up this one and he wins the Derby, so it was meant to be."

  • The last three years, the New York-based jockey came to Churchill Downs with a colt considered a leading contender, only to have it withdrawn.

  • This time, he was supposed to ride early second choice Uncle Mo before the colt was scratched due to a lingering stomach problem. Then Albarado broke his nose when he was thrown off his horse and kicked in the face before a race three days ago.

  • And the rest, as they say, is history.

  • Animal Kingdom, who had never raced on dirt before, reacted to his new rider the way a champion should, charging down the middle of the stretch to win by 2¾ lengths in front of a crowd of 164,858, the largest in Derby history.