This year May 7 was the 148th running of the famous Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky. With it being the first time in three years that Churchill Downs hosted the derby at full capacity, and an unbelievable upset victory by Rich Strike, this year’s derby was filled with highlights.
The two horses that everyone was expecting to win were Epicenter and Zandon. In fact, no one was surprised to see them battling for the finishing line towards the end of the race. These two horses were considered to be the top contenders for this year’s derby.
However, to everyone’s surprise, 80-1 longshot Rich Strike, ridden by jockey Sonny Leon, ran his way through the field, powering ahead of this year’s favorites Epicenter and Zandon. Not only did Strike get first place, but he won by three-quarters of a length. According to the Washington Post, “It was one of the most memorable finishes among the 148 times the Kentucky Derby has been held.”
Ironically, Rich Strike wasn’t even supposed to race in the Kentucky Derby this year. Ethereal Road was set to start instead but was pulled out of the race Friday morning, moving Rich Strike in.
“I didn’t know if he could win, but I had a good feeling with him,” Leon said to a reporter for BloodHorse. “I wasn’t nervous. I was excited. Nobody knows my horse like I know my horse.”
It was a winning debut for not only Rich Strike and his jockey Sonny Leon, but also for their trainer Eric Reed.
“This is something that’s the reason everybody does this because we’re not supposed to be here,” Reed told NBC Sports right after the race. “I know this horse loved the track, and he’s been training so good all year.”
Strike’s next race is the Preakness Stakes, which takes place May 21 at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.