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Rich Strike records a fairy-tale success

  May 8 , 2022

Racing is replete with incredible tales of success. The fairy-tale victory of rank outsider Rich Strike in the Gr 1 Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby on Saturday was an incredible story of the success of a horse that was not even in the field until Friday morning when he drew into the race with a scratch. To quote a line from a popular song, it was the chance of a Lifetime in a Lifetime of chances for the connections of Rich Strike!

Rich Strike became the first horse in history to win the Kentucky Derby after having just won one claiming race in his career. If you don`t try, you don`t win could well have been the motto of the connections who dared to run their horse against accomplished horses.

The Derby is not always won by what is perceived as the best horse in the fray as the tote board has little relevance to the merits of a horse but the success of Rich Strike was not even in the realm of hope for the owner Rich Dawson who exclaimed: What planet is this? I feel like I have been propelled somewhere. This is unbelievable.``

The stunning acceleration of Rich Strike which saw him whizz past the market fancies Epicenter and Zandon inside the final 100 metres stunned the majority into silence. The race appeared to be running to a script till jockey Sony Leon found a nice run along the inside from way off the pace, and showed good reflexes as he angled out his horse to avoid clipping Messier who was falling back. The horse did the rest as Rich Strike showed resolution and strong legs to stave off the two-market fancies. The winning trainer Eric Reed said his knees knuckled in excitement and he fell to the ground at the unexpected windfall.

Rich Strike won at staggering odds of 80 to 1 which is reportedly the second-highest dividend returned by a Kentucky Derby winner with Donerail`s upset win in 1913 fetching a much higher return. Rich Strike made it to the post only because Ethereal Road was pulled out of the race on Friday. Like Big Brown who won this race in 2008, Rich Strike too jumped out from the widest draw no 20.

With rains keeping away, the track was conducive for a fast race to unfold. Rich Strike was eased into the back of the pack and he had just two horses behind him till the halfway stage. What fell in place for Rich Strike was the fact the principal contenders went with the hot pace set by UAE Derby runner-up Sumer Is Here.

Rich Strike overhauled the horses in front which were tiring out by the pace and he had no problem in going past Epicenter and Zandon who had seized the initiative at the top of the straight. Rich Strike had so much more stamina than the principal rivals who were beaten to submission rather easily. The horses which were prominent in front eventually did not figure on the board undone by the pace. Rich Strike stopped the clock on a fast track in 2:02.61. Simplification was fourth while Mo Donegal who was sluggish at the, finished well to take the fifth position.

I didn`t know if he could win, but I had a good feeling with him," said Leon, whose lone mount on the card was the Derby. "I had to wait until the stretch, and that`s what I did. I waited, and then the rail opened up. I wasn`t nervous. I was excited. Nobody knows my horse like I know my horse."

Rich Strike was acquired for $30,000, plucked out of a maiden claiming race last September at Churchill Downs in his second start. Rich Strike earned $1,860,000 for his history-making win.

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Total Comments : 1
Posted by Ravi Gowande on ( May 7 , 2022 )
It was a fantastic race ,Full credit goes to the connections, they took the chance and lucky enough to get the spot. Winning jockey rode a perfect race. It is regrettable that we in India do not get the chance to watch and bet legally in such races. I was expecting upset purely on astrological factors but such a log shot never imagined also.
Ravi Gowande

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