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The Racing Dudes team reacts to Rich Strike’s historic 80/1 upset of the 2022 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs LIVE as it happens on the track. Join the replay watch-along to get INSTANT reactions, then give YOUR thoughts about the race in the Comments section!
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The track press release:
RED TR-Racing’s Rich Strike, a last-minute addition to the Kentucky Derby (G1) field from the also-eligible list on Friday morning, rallied from far back to pull an 80-1 upset of Saturday’s 148th Run for the Roses. In deep stretch, the onetime maiden claimer rolled past favored Epicenter and Zandon to spark a $163.60 win mutuel.
The first Derby starter for trainer Eric Reed and jockey Sonny Leon, Rich Strike was bred by the all-time leading breeder in Derby history, the legendary Calumet Farm. He extends Calumet’s grip on the record as its 10th Kentucky Derby winner.
By Keen Ice, who famously stunned Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers (G1), Rich Strike had not previously won a stakes. He was a distant fifth behind Epicenter in the Gun Runner S. at Fair Grounds, then tried the trail on the Turfway Park Tapeta. Third in the Leonatus S., the deep closer got up for fourth in the John Battaglia Memorial, and third in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3).
But Rich Strike had romped in his only prior start at Churchill Downs, albeit in a $30,000 maiden claimer last September. Claimed from Calumet that day, the stamina-laden colt benefited from a ferocious pace set-up in Derby 148.
First, though, Rich Strike needed a defection to draw into the field.
Right before scratch time Friday morning, Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas had to scratch Ethereal Road, and Rich Strike suddenly got his chance.
Dubai shipper Summer Is Tomorrow set a blistering pace, pressed by Japan’s Crown Pride. Messier tracked, then split them as he made his bid for glory. It was short-lived, as his proximity to the pace told.Epicenter cruised to the fore entering the stretch, only to be challenged by Zandon. They appeared poised to fight out the finish, until Rich Strike surged to their inside and completed the 1 1/4-mile classic in 2:02.61.
Simplification finished fourth, and Mo Donegal rounded out the top five.
Rich Strike is the second-biggest longshot in Derby history, after Donerail paid $184.90 in 1913.
Sonny Leon, jockey of Rich Strike (First) – “You know we had a difficult post but I know the horse. I didn’t know if he could win but I had a good feeling with him. 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.”
Joel Rosario, jockey of Epicenter (Second) – “Everything was perfect. We thought we were home. Too bad that horse got us right at the end. I thought Epicenter ran a tremendous race. He did everything. He responded when I asked him. We ran too good to get beat.”
Flavien Prat, jockey of Zandon (Third) – “To be honest, when I got next to Epicenter, I thought I was good to win it. I had a good trip. At the eighth pole, I thought I was going to be a winner. Epicenter fought back on me.”
Jose Ortiz, jockey of Simplification (Fourth) – “When I wanted to run I had room to run. I had a perfect trip.”
Irad Ortiz Jr., jockey of Mo Donegal (Fifth) – “I didn’t have the best break out of there. I worked out my trip, and my horse ran great.”
Rey Gutierrez, jockey of Barber Road (Sixth) – “He ran well. We saved ground the first turn and took a chance on the final turn by going really wide. I was hoping it would help him get there but it didn’t give us the result we wanted.”
Ricardo Santana Jr. jockey of Tawny Port (Seventh) – “I can’t ask for a better trip. I had a good trip but he got tired. He came back pretty quick from his last race. The extra distance next time could help.”
Corey Lanerie, jockey of Smile Happy (Eighth) – “I had a good trip. Broke clean and had a smooth run through the first turn. I was right with Epicenter when we came to the quarter pole. I popped out to try to go around but just didn’t have enough horse. He gave out on me a little bit, so just maybe the distance.”
Brian Hernandez Jr., jockey of Tiz the Bomb (Ninth) – “We didn’t get away from the gate as cleanly as we would like. We ended up a little further back. He ran a pretty good trip, he grinded it out and picked up half the field late.”
Manny Franco, jockey of Zozos (10th) – “The pace was hot. I was right where I wanted to be. The other horses were better than him today.”
Julien Leparoux, jockey of Classic Causeway (11th) – “We missed the break a little bit, but there was some pace in front so I was kinda happy anyway to be where I was. He traveled beautifully and gave me everything he had.”
Mike Smith, jockey of Taiba (12th) – “He was a little bad with the dirt (being kicked in his face) but it is what it is. He didn’t embarrass himself.”
Christophe Lemaire, jockey of Crown Pride (13th) – “Early on it was quick. He took good position easily and I could hold him very well. He gradually got tired and couldn’t pick up at the end.”
Rafael Bejarano, jockey of Happy Jack (14th) –“My horse was good in the beginning but somehow his tail got trapped in the gate and he started acting crazy. He tried to flip out and then they had to back him out.”
Tyler Gaffalione., jockey of White Abarrio (16th) – “He jumped great. Then the first sixteenth we got squeezed back and then he was fighting the kickback and I got caught wide both turns. He made a good run just kinda got tired out.”
Luis Saez, jockey of Charge It (17th) – “He ran good. He’s still a baby. He broke pretty nice and when we came to the top of the stretch, the other horses were too good.”
Florent Geroux, jockey of Cyberknife (18th) – “I broke super sharp and was in a great position. I only thing I can think of that the pace was very hot and I was up close. I was saving ground on the first turn but he didn’t run his race.”
Joe Bravo, jockey of Pioneer of Medina (19th) – “He’ll have better days to shine.”
Mickael Barzalona, jockey of Summer Is Tomorrow (20th) – “He’s a perfect six- to seven-furlong horse. Today, we got pressure early on and the backstretch and I couldn’t save him (his speed) as I did in Dubai last time.”
Eric Reed, trainer of Rich Strike (First) – “He passed them all. I’m elated. I’m happy because this horse trained good enough to win. This rider (Sonny Leon) has been on him all along as he learned the process. He taught him to go between horses. He taught me who to train horses (pointing to his father, Herbert). I’m surrounded by the best. I didn’t think I could win necessarily but I knew if he got it, they’d know who he was when the race was over.”
Steve Asmussen, trainer of Epicenter (Second) – “I can’t believe it after Epicenter’s effort. And, the scenario in which I went 0 for 24, you couldn’t make up. I got beat by the horse that just got in.”
Chad Brown, trainer of Zandon (Third) – “We really had a great trip. Epicenter was in front of us closer to the pace and Flavien (Prat) really just followed Joel (Rosario) all the way. Turning for home he was in a great position and was really battling with Epicenter. (Rich Strike) just snuck up our inside and we were third best.”
Antonio Sano, trainer of Simplification (Fourth) – “We were pretty far back early but he made a huge run. We’re very proud about the effort.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer of Mo Donegal (Fifth), Charge It (17th) and Pioneer of Medina (19th) – “Mo Donegal all but lost it at the gate. That’s the second year in a row that’s happened to us, even though that new gat gets them further off the rail. But to his credit, he kept trying to the end. Charge It got in a good spot, he came under a drive at the three-eighths pole but that was it. Pioneer of Medina got hot in the paddock. I didn’t get much of a line on him in the race.
John Ortiz, trainer of Barber Road (Sixth) – “We still need more ground. I always thought he was a Belmont horse. We knew we had to go wide. Traffic is what we had to avoid. It was awesome. I love the effort. I love what Reylu (Gutierrez) did. I couldn’t be happier right now.”
Brad Cox, trainer of Tawny Port (Seventh), Zozos (10th) and Cyberknife (18th) – “Tawny Port finished up OK; Cybernife super disappointed; Zozos was too close to the hot pace. No doubt that was a really hot pace. I’m not sure where this horse was he must have been in the back somewhere. No matter how good you look breezing or in the mornings, you have to have the right setup. And this horse had the right setup today. We’ll live to fight another day.”
Kenny McPeek, trainer of Smile Happy (Eighth) and Tiz the Bomb (Ninth) – “What a crazy Derby. I’ll have to watch the replay and see how it all unfolded.”
Brian Lynch, trainer of Classic Causeway (11th) – “It was not the cleanest break and he got shuffled back. It was a roughly run race and Julien (Leparoux) could never get a run going. We’ll regroup and give him some time to recover. But certainly the Preakness is not in our plans.”
Tim Yakteen, trainer of Taiba (12th) and Messier (15th) – Couldn’t be reached for comment.
Koichi Shintani, trainer of Crown Pride (13th) – Couldn’t be reached for comment.
Leondro Mora, assistant trainer of Happy Jack (14th) – “Rafael (Bejarano) told us that his tail got caught in the back of the gate when he was fussing before the start. Thank goodness they backed him out and when they released the back gates, his tail came free.”
Saffie Joseph Jr., trainer of White Abarrio (16th) – “He made it out in one piece. It’s hard but that’s racing. An 80-1 shot winning, unbelievable. Congrats to them.”
Bhupat Seemar, trainer of Summer Is Tomorrow (20th) – Couldn’t be reached for comment.
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