Long shot strikes it rich in huge upset at Kentucky Derby | Sports

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Anyone anticipating a return to normalcy within the Kentucky Derby obtained a dose of loopy Saturday when an 80-1 shot got here charging up the rail to win at Churchill Downs.

With favourite Epicenter and Zandon engaged in a duel on the entrance, Rich Strike stole the present with the second-biggest upset within the Derby’s 148-year historical past.

The chestnut colt beat 4-1 favourite Epicenter by three-quarters of a size. Zandon completed one other three-quarters of a size again in third.

“I about fell down in the paddock when he hit the wire,” successful coach Eric Reed mentioned. “I about passed out.”

Rich Strike paid $163.60. Only Donerail in 1913 had the next payout of $184.90.

“What a crazy Derby,” mentioned coach Kenny McPeek, whose horses completed eighth and ninth.

Rich Strike wasn’t within the Derby till Friday when Hall of Fame coach D. Wayne Lukas scratched Ethereal Road, making room for the colt who had simply two earlier wins in his profession.

“We found out about 30 seconds before the deadline on Friday,” proprietor Rick Dawson mentioned. “It put us in the race, and really we always felt if we just got in we’ve got a shot.”

Rich Strike ran 1¼ miles in 2:02.61. After taking a chunk out of his costlier competitors, he playfully chomped on the horse guiding him to the winner’s circle.

“I can’t believe it after Epicenter’s effort,” mentioned shedding coach Steve Asmussen, who fell to 0-24 within the Derby. “I got beat by the horse that just got in.”

Jockey Sonny Leon and Rich Strike had simply two horses beat within the early going. Leon ultimately guided his mount between horses and to the within rail. Rich Strike made a deft transfer round Messier within the stretch and went proper again to the rail, intent on selecting off Epicenter and Zandon.

“When I was in the last 70 yards, I said, ‘I think I got this race,’” Leon mentioned.

Leon, from Venezuela, and Reed have been of their first Derby. Reed endured a tragedy 5 years in the past when he misplaced nearly two dozen horses in a barn hearth at his coaching heart in Lexington.

He briefly thought of the hearth is likely to be a sign for him to go away the game.

“People I hadn’t seen, people I haven’t talked to in years, my best friends were there in the morning to pick me up,” Reed recalled. “It let me know there’s so much good out there, and then I just decided I wasn’t going to let it take me out.”

Leon frequently rides on a number of the nation’s smallest circuits, the place the horse flesh is cheap and the purse cash modest. But he matched wits with such veteran riders as Joel Rosario, aboard Epicenter, and Mike Smith, aboard Messier.

Leon’s rail journey was paying homage to jockey Calvin Borel’s stealth transfer aboard Mine That Bird in 2009. Mine That Bird sprang what then was the Derby’s third-biggest upset, paying $103.20 to win.

Reed had no argument with the bettors ignoring his colt, whose victory certainly impressed little guys all over the place.

“Small trainer, small rider, small stable, he should have been 80-1,” Reed mentioned. “And so anybody that’s in this business, lightning can strike.”

Rich Strike was bought by Dawson, who races as RED TR-Racing LLC, for $30,000 within the fall when the colt was entered in a low-level claiming race by his former proprietor.

Calumet Farm head Brad Kelley is likely to be ruing that call now. Calumet Farm has gained a report eight Kentucky Derbies, however none since 1968, when Forward Pass was positioned first through disqualification.

Rich Strike earned $1.86 million for his first stakes victory. The colt misplaced to Zandon in his most up-to-date begin in April and was crushed by Epicenter within the John Battaglia Memorial in March.

Simplification completed fourth and Mo Donegal was fifth.

Churchill Downs returned to full capability, together with former President Donald Trump, on the primary Saturday in May for the primary time in three years.

But the ultimate outcome was the extra upheaval for America’s best horse race.

In 2019, winner Maximum Security was disqualified for interference after 22 minutes and runner-up Country House wore the garland of pink roses.

In 2020, an eerie silence enveloped the observe when no followers have been allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the race was pushed to September.

Last 12 months’s winner, Medina Spirit, was disqualified after 9 months, having failed a post-race drug take a look at that led to six-time Derby-winning coach Bob Baffert being banned from Churchill Downs for 2 years. The 2021 Derby was again to its ordinary spot on the calendar with attendance restricted to about 52,000.

The bourbon was flowing once more on today, cigar smoke curled within the air on a cloudy and unusually cool day, and followers strutted of their large hats, floral-print attire and seersucker fits.

Then got here Rich Strike thundering alongside the rail and all heck broke unfastened.

Just a few days in the past, Reed despatched Dawson a photograph of the colt sprawled in his straw-covered stall along with his handlers laying on him, all of them napping. Reed typed, “I think our horse is cool and ready to run.”

Dawson responded, “If we can wake him up.”

“I feel like the luckiest man alive,” Dawson mentioned, grinning.

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