80-1 shot Rich Strike wins Kentucky Derby


Rich Strike won the 148th Kentucky Derby.

Rich Strike won the 148th Kentucky Derby.
picture: Getty Images

Rich Strike was not in the Kentucky Derby field when head coach Eric Reid woke up Friday morning. A late scratch on Ethereal Road opened up a spot for a 21st horse in the field of 20 Thoroughbreds. And one of the longest shots in the field at 80-1 on time just won the 148th Kentucky Derby.

Jockey Sonny Leon had six appearances at Belterra Park in Cincinnati on Friday and didn’t expect a jaunt through Louisville’s Churchill Downs to be part of his weekend. And now he’s won horse racing’s signature event. Rich Strike had the second lowest rate an all-time Kentucky Derby winner.

At the start of the race, Rich Strike was the horse farthest from the track. At the start of the last leg, Rich Strike was a dozen lengths behind the leader and betting on favorite Epicenter. As a duel between fellow leader Zandon played out at the front of the field, a lane opened up on the inside for Rich Strike.

Due in part to an incredibly fast Derby, both Zandon and Epicenter were tired as the finish line neared. Rich Strike was trapped in a pack of horses for most of the race, but still had enough in the tank to overtake the favorites and win the Run for the Roses.

“Nothing from this horse’s past performances suggests that was even a possibility,” NBC’s Jerry Bailey announced seconds after the finish.

Rich Strike will now wait two weeks to compete in leg two of the Triple Crown of horse racing, The Preakness Stakes, on May 21 from Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course. A $2 bet on Rich Strike to win the Kentucky Derby would have made the bettor more than $160. A Superfecta, in which Simplification finished fourth behind Epicenter and Zandon, paid around $310,000.

“We always felt like if we came in we had a chance,” said Rick Dawson, owner of Rich Strike in the winners’ circle.

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