Kentucky Derby champ Animal Kingdom finished in first-place in the final NTRA Three-Year-Old Poll of 2011. The colt led the voting ever since he posted his victory in the Run for the Roses as a 20-1 longshot.
Finishing second was Preakness winner Shackleford and newly crowned Belmont Stakes champ Ruler On Ice entered the final poll in third.
Animal Kingdom received 18 top votes and 199 points. Owned by Team Valor and trained by Graham Motion, the colt was sixth in the Belmont Stakes after nearly falling early in the running.
“We want to make this horse the champion,” said Barry Irwin, founder and CEO of Team Valor. “I really thought we were going to win the Belmont or at least run second. He’s probably the leader of the three-year-old class right now, but he’s no cinch to be the champion, so I think we’re going to have to put him where he can solidify that. We’re going to have to take a look at the Travers (at Saratoga, August 27).”
Shackleford, fifth in the Belmont, got one first-place vote and 167 points.
“The 1 1/2-miles might just have been too long for him,” noted Scott Everett, assistant trainer to Dale Romans, “but there aren’t many horses bred to go that distance anymore. We are very proud of what he has done.”
Ruler On Ice, the 24-1 winner of the Test of Champions, makes his first and only appearance in the poll following his three-quarter length win over Stay Thirsty. Owned by George and Lori Hall, the gelding got one first-place vote and 149 points.
“I don’t think anybody could put into words or make any calculations for what helped him or what hurt anybody else,” trainer Kelly Breen said. “That’s racing, and that’s why they run the races.”
Nehro, the tough luck three-year-old of the year, finished fourth with 100 points after his fourth-place result in the Belmont.
Completing the poll are Dialed In (74), Plum Pretty (67), Toby’s Corner (62), Astrology (59), Stay Thirsty (51) and Brilliant Speed (43). Plum Pretty, the only filly in the top 10, picked up the remaining first-place vote.
In the National Poll, Havre de Grace continues in the top spot after winning Saturday at Delaware Park. Perfect in three starts this year, the four-year- old filly received eight first-place votes and 161 points. She will make her next start in the Delaware Handicap on July 16.
“Going into the Delaware Handicap we not only want to think we have the best horse, we want to make sure we have taken the best path we can take,” said the filly’s trainer Larry Jones.
Met Mile champ Tizway is second with one first-place vote and 122 points.
Four-year-old filly Blind Luck is third with a top vote and 82 points and is followed by Game On Dude (81), Twirling Candy (1, 80), Animal Kingdom (77), Goldikova (7, 75), First Dude (2, 69), Duke of Mischief (66) and Get Stormy (53).