- Rich Strike has resumed training in preparation for the Belmont Stakes.
- He was the upset winner of the Kentucky Derby as an 80-1 longshot.
- The Belmont Stakes is the third leg of the Triple Crown and will be run on June 11 at New York’s Belmont Park.
Having passed on the Preakness, Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike has returned to training with a 47.20 second breeze at Churchill Downs. Gabriel Lagunes was on Rich Strike, with owner Rick Dawson, trainer Eric Reed and jockey Sonny Leon watching from the stands. Reed said afterwards that he’s happy to be getting back to work:
“I’m glad to get this out of the way. He is just so fit. If you put a match up to his nose, he wouldn’t blow it out. Literally. He’s something I’ve never seen before.”
Reed also reaffirmed that the decision to skip the Preakness was the right one for Rich Strike:
“I really don’t think his head would’ve been in it,” said Reed. “We’re very satisfied with our decision to wait for the Belmont.”
Since the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike has been stabled at the Mercury Training Center near Lexington. He returned to Churchill Downs last week, a switch on the previous plan to ship him to New York this coming Thursday:
“He just really likes it here at Churchill. It picks his head up big-time. He’ll have the work on May 30, and then we’ll ship him up to Belmont and he’ll have eight or nine days galloping over the track there.”
Jockey Sonny Leon–who turned in one of the epic rides in Kentucky Derby history–will once again be on board Rich Strike at the Belmont. He’s planning to take some mounts during the week before the race to familiarize himself with the New York track.
A relative afterthought among three year olds before the first Saturday in May, now the entire world knows about Rich Strike. He was the final horse to make the Kentucky Derby field, getting in as an ‘also eligible’ following the withdrawal of Ethereal Road. Despite the media giving the impression that Rich Strike’s connections were ‘just happy to be there’ the horse and jockey Sonny Leon had other plans. After the front runners set insanely fast fractions, Leon took advantage of the blistering early pace to come from behind and catch Epicenter at the wire. Rich Strike went off at 80-1, making him the second highest priced winner in Kentucky Derby history behind 91-1 Donerail in 1913.