Rich Strike wins the 148th Kentucky Derby

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The horse entered the race at odds of 80 to 1 – the biggest shot by far in the 20-horse field. Rich Strike started the derby week as a substitute and was only added to the field on Friday when another horse withdrew from the race.

“We came here for a prayer,” coach Eric Reed said at a post-race press conference. “Anyone who is in this business, lightning can strike.”

As the horses entered the final stretch of the race, Rich Strike was in the middle of the field but passed favorites and favorites Epicenter and Zandon in the closing seconds of the race.

Epicenter and Zandon finished second and third respectively.

Reed said his team traveled to Louisville a few days before the derby, while still in alternate status, to prepare for the possible scenario of the horse being in the running. Rich Strike began training “against all odds, no one thought we could get in,” Reed said.

On Friday, a day before the race, officials announced that another horse, Ethereal Road, was missing and Rich Strike was on board.

“I couldn’t even breathe,” Reed said.

“That’s…the reason everyone does this. Because we’re not supposed to be here, but I knew this horse loved the track and he’s been training so well all year,” he said after the race. This is Reed’s first winning horse in the derby.

Venezuelan jockey Sonny Leon, competing in his first Kentucky Derby, led Rich Strike to surprise victory and a $1.86 million winner’s purse.

“I was excited,” Leon said of his pre-race emotions. “No one knows my horse like I know this horse.”

Sonny Leon celebrates after crossing the finish line with Rich Strike.
Rich Strike is owned by RED TR-Racing, LLC, according to the derby’s website.
Dubbed the “greatest two minutes in sport” – a nod to its approximate length – the Derby is the first race in the coveted Triple Crown of American horse racing, which also includes the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

The next leg of the Triple Crown will be in Baltimore, Maryland on May 21.

The competition was wide open this year without coach Bob Baffert, who was banned from Churchill Downs for two years after Medina Spirit, who crossed the finish line first last year, later tested positive for a banned substance. Medina Spirit passed away suddenly in December.

Baffert claimed an ointment used to treat dermatitis may have caused the positive test.

The first runner-up in this race, Mandaloun, was announced as the winner.

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