Velazquez started from the back of the pack at Churchill Downs, and then worked his way to the outside before turning on the jets to win by 2 3/4-lengths – 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.04 -- in front of a crowd of 164,858, the largest in Derby history. Animal Kingdom, who had never run on dirt before, was a 20-1 long shot and paid 43-dollars and eighty cents. Nehro was second and Mucho Macho Man third.
"For once, I'm on the good end of it. All of a sudden I pick up this one and he wins the Derby, so it was meant to be," said Velazquez, according to ESPN.
"It's words that you can't describe," Velazquez said. "But I do really feel really bad for Robby [Albarado]. I hope he's winning the Derby with me here. I know he got hurt, so this is for both of us, buddy. I know you're not on it, but I know you're with me."
Albarado won a $345,600 stakes race on the Derby undercard, but was not happy at the end of the race.
"Barry Irwin decided he didn't think I was fit to ride; he didn't know my status or situation. This just wasn't my time today."
Animal Kingdom is owned by Team Valor International, a partnership syndicate headed by Irwin, who switched riders when Albarado took time off Friday to heal after being thrown off his horse and kicked in the face.
"It was a tough call because I really like Robby. He's won a lot of races for us, but we got 20 partners in this horse," Irwin said. "We got a large investment and I had to do what I thought was best for the partnership."
The 136th Preakness Stakes begins on May 21.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.