Long shot Rich Strike took victory at the 148th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville on Saturday in one of the biggest upheavals in the history of the race.
The brown colt, who went out with an odds of 80-1, took the lead along the stretch to the advantage of Epicenter, who was second, and Zandon, who was third.
Rich Strike only entered the 20-horsepower race when Ethereal Road was scratched on Friday morning.
The unlikely win was the first Kentucky Derby win for coach and Kentucky native Eric Reed.
“I fell into the paddock when it hit the wire,” Reed said.
“I fainted. I am so happy. This is why everyone does it. We shouldn’t be here, but I knew this horse loved this track and he trained so well all year. “
Reed had considered quitting the sport after losing 23 horses in a barn fire in 2016. Thirteen horses were rescued.
Summer Is Tomorrow and Crown Pride took the lead early in the lightning-fast start of the race under cloudy skies and in front of over 150,000 fans.
The epicenter looked poised for victory until Rich Strike and jockey Sonny Leon made their move down the track in the closing seconds of the race.
“I knew the horse could do it if it could find its way through the traffic,” Reed said.
“That’s why I had Sonny on him. He brought us here, he knows the horse and gave him the most beautiful ride he has ever seen. “
Rich Strike is the second longest shot to win the race for the roses after Donerail won with an odds of 91-1 in 1913.
Owner Rick Dawson was one of the few people who didn’t seem surprised by the result.
“We always felt like we could get into the race, we would have a chance and we proved it today,” said Dawson.
“We have never entered a race that we didn’t think we could win. Never. This is what Eric and I always talk about. If they’re not ready to win, we’ll get them back and train them again. “
Leon was forced to break from No. 20th position in his first Kentucky Derby.
“We had a difficult place, but I know the horse,” he said.
“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 waited and then the railing opened. I wasn’t nervous, I was excited. Nobody knows my horse like I know my horse.”
Rich Strike will now look to win the sport’s Triple Crown when he competes at the Preakness Stakes on May 21 and at the Belmont Stakes on June 11.
This year’s race was notable for the absence of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, whose horses have won the Kentucky Derby six times.
Baffert was suspended after last year’s winner, Medina Spirit, failed a post-Derby drug test and was stripped of her title. Baffert trained Medina Spirit and denied any wrongdoing.
In a time of misinformation and too much information, Quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By signing up, you can help us make the story right.