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Rich Strike galloped towards one of the greatest upheavals Kentucky Derby story on Saturday when he passed the Epicenter in the last leg of the race to win the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Sonny Leon, in his first Derby, led Rich Strike into the winning circle. The horse, who hadn’t won a race since Maiden Claiming at Churchill Downs last September, somehow teamed up in the last few yards to take the first win.
Epicenter would finish in second place and Zandon in third place.
Rich Strike was eligible for the race, but only entered the event after Ethereal Road was scratched. The horse was bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm and is owned by Richard Dawson’s RED TR-Racing, LLC. Eric Reed is the coach.
Dawson said he found out he was in the Derby 30 minutes before the deadline.
“I knew the horse could do it if it could find its way through the traffic. [Sonny Leon] gave him the coolest ride I’ve ever seen, ”Reed said.
Leon said he took his entire family with him to the race to see him. Looking back on the race on NBC, Leon said “it was great”.
Rich Strike was 1-0-3 in seven events.
The colt was mostly in the back or in the middle of the pack during the race and it wasn’t until the finish line came close when Leon decided to make a move and Rich Strike went from around fourth to the top of the leaders .
“We are elated to see no known injuries during the run of the 148th Kentucky Derby and congratulate the Rich Strike team, Churchill Downs and the Derby on a successful event that saw the second longest shot in history win the ‘Run for the Rose.’ American horse racing is closer to getting back on track, ”Animal Wellness Action Executive Director Marty Irby said in a statement to Fox News Digital.
“The absence of Lasix and other medications, coupled with coach Bob Baffert’s infamous suspension following a failed drug test with Medina Spirit, and Churchill’s support for the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, put the ‘Run for the Roses’ in a much better light than we have seen in many years and we hope Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes see no injuries and much success too. “
An over-excited horse was also seen biting the lead ponies before returning to the stables.
Rich Strike finished third at the Jeff Ruby Steaks in April, fourth at the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes in March, and fifth at the Gun Runner Stakes in December.
The Preakness Stakes is next for Rich Strike. The race is on May 21st.