John Velazquez had an up-and-down week at Churchill Downs, but it all ended well for the jockey of Animal Kingdom, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby. Velazquez lost his mount on Friday as Uncle Mo, the horse he was originally slated to ride, was forced to scratch due to gastrointestinal problems. Without a mount, it looked like Velazquez would have to sit out the Kentucky Derby after drawing one of the favorites in Uncle Mo.
But all that changed a short time later. Velazquez was picked up and slated to mount Animal Kingdom for Saturday's Kentucky Derby. And what a stroke of luck it was for Velazquez. Though Animal Kingdom held worse than 20-1 odds in the derby, Velazquez had a mount, and he had a chance.
And from the outside, Animal Kingdom made its move on the outside as the field reached the final turn at Churchill Downs. With Velazquez urging him on, Animal Kingdom reeled the field in and took hold of the lead down the home-stretch, opening up the margin as the wire approach. Though he did receive a challenge from Nehro late, it was never in doubt down to the wire as Animal Kingdom won the 2011 Kentucky Derby by more than a length.
With that, Velazquez had his winner from the No. 16 spot. Nehro was second and Mucho Macho Man was third. But the story of the day was Animal Kingdom, who won in his first race on dirt at the biggest race of the all: The Kentucky Derby. A first race on dirt and first win for Animal Kingdom, as well as a first Kentucky Derby win for Velazquez caps another incredible Derby day at Churchill Downs.
You can find even more information on the race and detailed results here.
With the Kentucky Derby over, it's time for a look back at the week at Churchill Downs. Stay with our 2011 Kentucky Derby StoryStream for more on the race, including full results, recaps and payouts. For more on the race, head over to SB Nation's Kentucky Derby StoryStream or check out And Down The Stretch They Come.