Rich Strike overcame 80-1 odds Saturday to win the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby, the second biggest upset in the race’s storied history.
As favorite Epicenter and Zandon dueled down the stretch, Rich Strike — piloted by Sonny Leon and trained by Eric R. Reed — seemingly came out of nowhere in the race’s final strides and scored the massive upset.
Rich Strike was entered only after Ethereal Road was declared out of the race Friday morning. The long-shot has only raced seven times previously.
Rich Strike now has two more races for a chance to complete one of the great achievements in American sports, the Triple Crown.
The chestnut colt earned the second biggest upset in the race’s storied history, bested only by Donerail win in 1913 against 91-1 odds.
“This is the most unbelievable day ever,” said owner Richard Dawson of Red TR-Racing, LLC.
Reed, the trainer, said that even though the colt appeared to be improving with each race, the finish surprised him.
“I fell down the paddock when he hit the wire,” he said. ” … We’re not supposed to be here.”
Ohio-based Venezuelan jockey Leon said he could sense the horse was about to break even as it cruised mid-pack.
“I came through in the stretch,” he 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.”
Now the team will have to be at some other big races.
Saturday’s race went off without a horse guided by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. It marked the sixth time Baffert hasn’t had a Derby entry since his first Run of the Roses in 1996.
Last year’s Kentucky Derby was won, initially, by Medina Spirit, who appeared to have given Baffert a record seventh win in America’s most famous horse race.
But shortly after the race, it was disclosed that Medina Spirit had failed a drug test.
Churchill Downs Inc. has banned Baffert’s horses from running at any of its tracks for this year and through mid-2023. Baffert is suing Churchill Downs Inc. in federal court in hopes of ending the ban.
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.