Surprise Win A Dramatic Finish For Suspenseful Derby

Originally published on May 8, 2011 10:20 am
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LIANE HANSEN, host:

The largest crowd ever packed into Churchill Downs yesterday for the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby. But much of the intrigue of the 2011 derby happened behind the scenes. When Uncle Mo withdrew from the race on Friday due to a stomach ailment, he left the field with no clear favorite.

Twenty-three-year-old Rosy Napravnik, the sixth female jockey in derby history, rode Pants on Fire. And Animal Kingdom, a long shot with 20 to 1 odds, had an 11th hour jockey change.

(Soundbite of Kentucky Derby)

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Unidentified Announcer: They're into the stretch, and it's Shackleford with the rail...

HANSEN: Shackleford led for the majority for the mile-and-a-quarter sprint. But out of the final turn, Animal Kingdom was poised to make his move.

(Soundbite of Kentucky Derby)

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Announcer: Animal Kingdom roaring down the center of the track. Here comes Animal Kingdom in the middle of the racetrack to grab the lead, and then it's Nehro and Shackleford. But it's Animal Kingdom and John Velazquez to win the derby!

(Soundbite of cheering)

HANSEN: Animal Kingdom will go on to the second leg of racing's Triple Crown in two weeks, at Baltimore's Preakness Stakes.

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HANSEN: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.