Longshot Rich Strike races to stunning Kentucky Derby triumph
Rich Strike, an 80-1 longshot who only got into the field on May 6, pulled off a stunning upset victory in the 148th Kentucky Derby on May 7.
The colt, trained by Eric Reed and ridden by Sonny Leon, gained a place in the field when Ethereal Road was scratched.
Rich Strike powered ahead on the final straight to snatch the victory in the final strides at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Zandon and Epicenter, two of the favorites in a wide-open field of 20, were dueling down the stretch, having overtaken Japanese raider Crown Pride.
But Rich Strike surged past on the inside for the greatest upset in terms of odds since 1913, when 91-1 longshot Donerail won the first event in U.S. flat racing’s Triple Crown.
Epicenter, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Joel Rosario, was second and Zandon, trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Flavien Prat, was third.
Asmussen remained without a victory in 24 Kentucky Derby starts.
“I fell down in the paddock when he hit the wire,” Reed said. “I about passed out! I am so happy.”
The chestnut colt’s only prior victory came at Churchill Downs in September.
But owner Richard Dawson said that he wouldn’t have entered the horse if he didn’t think he had a chance.
“Never, ever would Eric and I put a horse in a race we didn’t think we could win,” he said.
“We just knew that we had a shot because every time he went longer he got better. Today he went a mile and a quarter and he just kept going.”
Indeed, the fired-up winner tried to take a bite out of his escort horse as they made their way to the winner’s circle.
The Triple Crown resumes in two weeks with the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, Maryland, and concludes in June with the Belmont Stakes in New York.