updated 05/07/2011 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/07/2011 AT 7:05 PM ET
Animal Kingdom is king of the Kentucky Derby.
The horse, which had never before run on a dirt course, won the race at Churchill Downs on Saturday as thousands of fans looked on.
“Although he’s only run on the turf and synthetics … he’s probably one of the most impressive work horses I’ve ever had,” trainer Graham Motion said in interviews before the race.
In fact, Animal Kingdom was impressive enough to beat Rosie Napravnik on her horse, Pants on Fire. If she won, Napravnik would have become the first female rider to earn a victory in the Derby’s 137-year history.
Jockey John Velazquez rode the 3-year-old colt, which was considered a longshot before the race, besting favorites Nehro and Mucho Macho Man.
Saturday’s win is the first victory for Motion.
Velazquez was originally supposed to ride Uncle Mo, but the horse had to drop out of the race due to a stomach problem. He also subbed for jockey Robby Albarado, who was supposed to ride Animal Kingdom but was forced to quit after breaking his nose earlier in the week.