Breeders’ Cup Classic 2022: How That Nutty Long Shot Derby Winner Rich Strike, Does, Actually, Have A Shot


LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – MAY 07: Jockey Sonny Leon reacts as Rich Strike wins the 148th running of the … [+] Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 07, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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When the long-shot Rich Strike blazed by Epicenter to take the Kentucky Derby in May, nobody was more surprised than the athlete’s own jockey Sonny Leon, himself a first-time long shot Derby winner. Since then, the three-year-old son of Keen Ice has had exactly no wins, but he did place respectably behind Hot Rod Charlie in the Lukas Classic. Trained by Eric Reed, Rich Strike does have some real royalty back in the pedigree in his paternal grandfather, Curlin.

And, he can go the distance handily, as he proved, once, in the Derby. But despite the fact that Reed has kept him pretty much on the track this year, there’s a sense that Rich Strike may just be so headstrong that he’s still doing that thing that adolescents across many species do as they “find” themselves. When he put on his show of power in the Derby, quite a number of Bluegrass professionals opined that Rich Strike was a “horse for the course” which meant that he knew, and liked, Churchill. Said another way, it very well can be that Rich Strike is the only athlete in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic who doesn’t yet know who he is or why he’s out there.

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