LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Another Derby, another last-minute change for jockey John Velazquez.
The scratch of Uncle Mo on Friday morning marked the third straight year Velazquez lost a major Derby contender less than a week before the race.
Velazquez had the mounts on Quality Road in 2009 and Eskendereya last year before they were withdrawn with injuries. He scrambled to find last-minute replacements, finishing 15th on 28-1 shot Mr. Hot Stuff in 2009 and 10th last year on the filly Devil May Care.
Once again, Velazquez didn't stay unemployed for long. Trainer H. Graham Motion quickly grabbed him to ride Animal Kingdom, winner of the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.
Velazquez replaces Robby Albarado, who suffered a broken nose earlier this week at Churchill Downs when a horse bucked him off during a post parade, and then delivered a kick to the face.
"We made the decision this morning, before the betting opened, so the punters would have full knowledge of what the deal was," said Barry Irwin, whose Team Valor International owns Animal Kingdom.
Velazquez is 0 for 12 in the Derby. His best finish was a second aboard Invisible Ink in 2001.
Motion lost his top Derby contender earlier this week when Wood Memorial winner Toby's Corner was scratched Monday with a left hind leg injury.
"It's been a real emotional roller coaster for everybody," Motion said. "That is the nature of the game, and what you grow used to."
Animal Kingdom will be running on a dirt track for the first time, breaking from post No. 16. The colt has two wins and two seconds in four starts.