After disqualifications and a pandemic and thoroughbred racing’s lengthy dialogue about betamethasone, the 2022 Kentucky Derby was billed as a “return to normal.”
There was nothing regular about this.
Rich Strike, who was on the also-eligible checklist till Friday morning, made a surprising transfer alongside the rail to win the Kentucky Derby on a cool and cloudy first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.
At 80-1 odds, Rich Strike scored the second-biggest upset in Kentucky Derby historical past and paid $163.60 on a $2 win wager. Donerail, at 91-1 odds in 1913, is the longest shot to win the race.
“It’s a horse race, and anybody can win,” coach Eric Reed mentioned. “And the tote board doesn’t mean a thing.”
Rich Strike and jockey Sonny Leon coated the 1 ¼ miles on a quick observe in 2:02.61 and completed three-quarters of a size in entrance of 4-1 favourite Epicenter. Zandon was three-quarters of a size again in third, and Simplification was one other 2 lengths again in fourth.
Rich Strike completed third within the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on April 2 at Turfway Park and stood No. 21 on the ultimate factors checklist for the Derby, which is restricted to twenty runners. He was entered Monday as an additionally eligible and earned a spot within the race Friday morning when coach D. Wayne Lukas selected to scratch Ethereal Road.
Historic spotlight: Watch Rich Strike win the 2022 Kentucky Derby
Reed mentioned he was notified at 8:45 a.m. Friday – quarter-hour earlier than the scratch deadline – Rich Strike wouldn’t get within the race.
“The security guard was told to leave the barn,” Reed mentioned.
Ten minutes later, he received the excellent news.
“We came here on a prayer,” Reed mentioned. “I told my Dad and told (owner Rick Dawson), the worst thing than can happen to us is to have a call a day or two before the Derby and say you’re going to get in and not be prepared. We trained against all odds. Nobody thought we could get in.”
The race arrange for a more in-depth due to a blistering early tempo set by Summer Is Tomorrow, who set fractions of 21.78 seconds for the quarter-mile and 45.36 seconds for the half-mile as Crown Pride raced simply to his exterior.
As the early velocity light, Messier had first run on the lead earlier than Epicenter swept by and appeared poised to give coach Steve Asmussen his first Derby victory.
“I can’t believe it after Epicenter’s effort,” mentioned Asmussen, who dropped to 0 for twenty-four all-time within the Derby. “And, the scenario in which I went 0 for 24, you couldn’t make up. I got beat by the horse that just got in.”
Zandon joined the battle within the ultimate furlong earlier than Rich Strike – a la 50-1 shot Mine That Bird in 2009 – charged alongside the rail for the victory.
“We had a difficult post, but I know the horse,” mentioned Leon, who received a graded stake for the primary time in his profession. “I didn’t know if he could win, but I had a good feeling with him. I had to wait until the stretch, and that’s what I did. I wanted, and then the rail opened up. I wasn’t nervous. I was excited.”
A son of Keen Ice out of the Smart Strike mare Gold Strike, Rich Strike was bred at Calumet Farm. After ending tenth in his first race final August on turf at Ellis Park, he was claimed for $30,000 after successful a Sept. 17 race by 17 ¼ lengths at Churchill.
Reed mentioned he preferred the horse’s exercises earlier than his debut at Ellis Park and figured the poor end was as a result of he didn’t just like the turf.
“He ran terrible,” Reed mentioned. “I just saw when he was in for ($30,000), this horse was working very good on the dirt. … I was taking a gamble it was the turf that got him beat, and he won by 17 or 18 lengths that day we claimed him. It obviously was the dirt.”
Since then he’s raced 5 instances with out ever ending within the prime two. He completed 5 ¾ lengths behind Tiz the Bomb within the Jeff Ruby Steaks, incomes the 20 factors he wanted to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
Now the chestnut colt will go down in historical past after incomes the winner’s share of $1.86 million.
“I asked my trainer up on the stage, ‘Are you sure this is not a dream because it can’t be true?’” Dawson mentioned. “He assured me this is real.”
Up subsequent? Likely the Preakness on May 21 at Pimlico for the second leg of the Triple Crown.
“That’s obviously the spot we’ve got to look at,” Reed mentioned. “We’ll see how he is, and we’ll make the call in a few days.”
Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; email@example.com; Twitter: @KentuckyDerbyCJ.
This article initially appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Rich Strike wins the 2022 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs