The reason for skipping is to give Rich Strike more time to rest between races, he said, adding that the horse is expected to compete in the Belmont Stakes in June.
“Our original plan for Rich Strike was contingent on the KY Derby,” Dawson said in a statement obtained by CNN. “Should we not run in the Derby we would point toward the Preakness, should we run in the Derby, subject to the race outcome & the condition of our horse, we would give him more recovery time and rest and run in the Belmont, or another race and stay on course to run with 5 or 6 weeks rest between races.”
Rich Strike, who was previously the first alternate and not expected to compete, defied 80-1 odds pulling ahead in the final moments of the race Saturday. The Preakness Stakes, the second of three legs in the Triple Crown, will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 21, followed by the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 11.
In 2019, Country House also skipped the Preakness Stakes, becoming the first Kentucky Derby winner to skip the second leg in 23 years. Mandaloun, the 2021 winner of the Kentucky Derby, also skipped the second leg but did so as the Kentucky Derby runner-up. Mandaloun was later recognized as the winner of the Kentucky Derby after Medina Spirit was disqualified after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Rich Strike, purchased for $30,000 by Dawson, was the first claimed horse to win the Kentucky Derby and had only been training with Dawson and horse trainer Eric Reed for one year before the win.