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Animal Kingdom places in expected last US race

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Former Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom finished second in what was expected to be his final U.S. race, Saturday's $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap.

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Breeders' Cup Turf runner-up Point of Entry, ridden by John Velazquez, won the 1 1/8-mile race despite giving two pounds to Animal Kingdom, who was ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario. The winning time was 1:47.00.

Animal Kingdom rushed up along the rail to battle leader Salto leaving the backstretch, then gained the advantage midway of the far turn. Point of Entry took the lead at the eighth pole and held off Animal Kingdom as they raced to the finish line.

``I think Joel was worried the speed was a little slow, so he moved a little early, which cost us the race,'' trainer Graham Motion said. ``Joel made a split-second decision and I'm not going to second-guess him for it. If he won, he would have been looked like a hero.''

Winning trainer Shug McGaughey said he was ``a little bit surprised'' when Rosario made the relatively early move to rail. He was happy with the result.

``The race was getting some publicity - the back of the Racing Form had both horses on there,'' McGaughey said. ``I think we beat a quality horse. I think it's sort of a feather in Point of Entry's cap to be able to beat a couple of horses that were in here.''

It was Animal Kingdom's second straight runner-up performance. He finished second to Wise Dan in the Breeders' Cup Mile last November.

``He was beaten by a very good horse, under very awkward circumstances,'' said Motion, alluding to Rosario's early move. ``I was a little concerned that maybe he got tired, but actually it looked like he galloped out with the winner.''

Animal Kingdom, the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, is expected to run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) on March 30 and possibly the Royal Ascot in England in June. The 5-year-old chestnut then is scheduled to stand at stud in September at Australia's Arrowfield Stud, which recently purchased a majority interest in his breeding rights.

His racing schedule has been interrupted by two layoffs due to injury, resulting in just two starts since his only off-the-board finish in the 2011 Belmont Stakes.

Point of Entry paid $6.20, $2.60 and 2.10. Animal Kingdom paid $2.40 and $2.10. Unbridled Command finished third paying $2.10. The Exacta paid $12.60.

Also on the schedule Saturday at Gulfstream was the Grade 1, $500,000 Donn Handicap, with Ultimate Eagle making his first start since finishing second by a head in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 5.

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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