Rich Strike, the longshot horse who was not originally expected to run in today’s biggest race, pulled off a shocking victory at the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
The No. 21 horse, who had 80-1 odds entering the race, was the first alternate. He was added to the race after Ethereal Road was scratched from the line-up Friday morning. The race marked jockey Sonny Leon’s first time winning the Derby. With his odds, Rich Strike was the longest shot on the board, making his victory a history making upset.
Speaking immediately after the victory, Rich Strike’s trainer Eric Reed said he nearly “passed out” after the horse took a late lead.
“I’m so happy. This is something that, you know, is the reason everybody does this,” he added, “We’re not supposed to be here but I knew this horse loved the track and he’d been training so good all year.”
Asked what kind of expectations he had after his horse was entered into the race, owner Richard Dawson said that he and Reed had never put a horse in a race that they did not believe they could win, adding, “We talked about never putting a horse in that wasn’t ready, wasn’t fit, and we just knew that we had a shot because every time he went longer, he got better.”
Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump were amongst scores of celebrities in the audience for the event. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who could emerge as a 2024 Democratic presidential contender if he wins re-election in 2023, presented the winning horse’s team with the rose gold trophy.