While the 2011 Kentucky Derby was thrilling, it wasn't particularly fast. Animal Kingdom was able to make his move coming out of the final turn before blowing the rest of the field out down the stretch to win by well over a length. But the Kentucky Derby could've ended differently had any of the contenders decided to push the pace at Churchill Downs on Saturday. In some ways, Animal Kingdom was lucky Shackleford set a slow pace.
And Down The Stretch They Come's Matt Gardner took a look at the splits from Saturday's race and found they were astonishingly slow. In fact, the splits were the slowest in the last quarter century as the field was content to sit behind Shackleford, a horse not pressing the pace.
Every step of the first six furlongs of yesterday's Kentucky Derby was the slowest we've seen in 24 years. Every single step. In this light, it's pretty amazing Animal Kingdom was able to make up the ground he was in the final furlongs. On the other side of the coin, front-running Shackleford had everything handed to him on a silver platter to win the Derby - an uncontested and easy lead
Below are Animal Kingdom's splits. You can tell the pace picked up between the 3/4 mile and mile at Churchill Downs as the field began to make its move. Animal Kingdom ran almost a full second fast during that time than he had at any other point during the race before finishing with a split just over 24 seconds.
The final time for the winner was 2:02.04. Not the fastest of all Kentucky Derbies, but it got the job done for Animal Kingdom as he won the 137th run for the roses.
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.