RED TR-Racing’s Rich Strike, a last-minute addition to the Kentucky Derby (G1) field from the also-eligible list on Friday morning, rallied from far back to pull an 80-1 upset of Saturday’s 148th Run for the Roses. In deep stretch, the onetime maiden claimer rolled past favored Epicenter and Zandon to spark a $163.60 win mutuel.
The first Derby starter for trainer Eric Reed and jockey Sonny Leon, Rich Strike was bred by the all-time leading breeder in Derby history, the legendary Calumet Farm. He extends Calumet’s grip on the record as its 10th Kentucky Derby winner.
By Keen Ice, who famously stunned Triple Crown champion American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers (G1), Rich Strike had not previously won a stakes. He was a distant fifth behind Epicenter in the Gun Runner S. at Fair Grounds, then tried the trail on the Turfway Park Tapeta. Third in the Leonatus S., the deep closer got up for fourth in the John Battaglia Memorial, and third in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3).
But Rich Strike had romped in his only prior start at Churchill Downs, albeit in a $30,000 maiden claimer last September. Claimed from Calumet that day, the stamina-laden colt benefited from a ferocious pace set-up in Derby 148.
First, though, Rich Strike needed a defection to draw into the field. Right before scratch time Friday morning, Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas had to scratch Ethereal Road, and Rich Strike suddenly got his chance.
Dubai shipper Summer Is Tomorrow set a blistering pace, pressed by Japan’s Crown Pride. Messier tracked, then split them as he made his bid for glory. It was short-lived, as his proximity to the pace told.
Epicenter cruised to the fore entering the stretch, only to be challenged by Zandon. They appeared poised to fight out the finish, until Rich Strike surged to their inside and completed the 1 1/4-mile classic in 2:02.61. Simplification finished fourth, and Mo Donegal rounded out the top five.
Rich Strike is the second-biggest longshot in Derby history, after Donerail paid $184.90 in 1913.