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.
“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.
“I was excited,” Leon said of his pre-race emotions. “No one knows my horse like I know this horse.”
The next leg of the Triple Crown will be in Baltimore, Maryland on May 21.
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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