Rich Strike Wins 2022 Kentucky Derby in Massive Upset

Rich Strike Wins 2022 Kentucky Derby in Massive Upset

Published May 8, 2022
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In one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Kentucky Derby, Eric Reed’s Rich Strike pulled off the unthinkable to win the 148th annual Kentucky Derby.

Rich Strike finished the “Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” with a 2:02.61 time to secure first place in the race. The chestnut colt also became only the second to win the Kentucky Derby from the 20th post position since the present-day starting gate was initiated in 1930, joining Big Brown in 2008. 

Rich Strike had a 80–1 odds to win the race, making it the second-longest shot to win in Derby history, per the NBC broadcast. Reed’s horse pulled off the win against some of the other favorites like Epicenter, who entered the race with the best odds and finished second on Saturday. 

Beyond Epicenter, Zandon finished third, Simplification fourth, Mo Denegal fifth, Taiba at No. 12 and Messier at No. 15. 

When Rich Strike’s jockey, Sonny Leon, woke up on Friday morning, his horse was not slated to be in this year’s race until 30 seconds before the deadline. Ethereal Road had been scratched from the race, making way for Rich Strike. 

Moments after securing the victory, Leon began to throw roses in celebration after making history. Leon, a Venezuelan native who started his career at 15 in Youngstown, Ohio, said after the race that the win was everything. 

“I came through in the stretch,” Leon said. “I kept him right because, I think I got this Kentucky Derby. … I think I got this race. I got to keep him right more than ever.”

From the moment Rich Strike entered the race, Richard Dawson, owner of Red TR-Racing, felt the horse had a chance to win.

“We felt like if we got in, we could win. … We never entered a race that we did not think we could win,” Dawson on the broadcast after the race. “This is the most unbelievable day ever … it’s like having a football team and winning a Super Bowl …with one player.”

The 1 1/4-mile race marks the first leg of the Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. And Reed feels Rich Strike can secure the crown. 

“This horse is just getting good … getting better every race,” Reed said. 

Last year, Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit secured first place in a surprising upset against crowd favorite, Essential Quality, to record his seventh Derby win. 

Baffert was not in attendance at this year’s Kentucky Derby. He was banned from competing in the Kentucky Derby for two years in June after Medina Spirit tested positive for the steroid betamethasone after the race in May 2021. The trainer was also stripped of the victory, fined $7,500 and forced to forfeit all the purse money. 

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