Last-minute surprise wins the Kentucky Derby.
The return of glory to Churchill Downs was evident as every pandemic obstacle was overcome and an enthusiastic crowd filled the stands at Louisville. After Medina Spirit was disqualified for having illegal drugs in his bloodstream, there were hopes that the image of Medina Spirit would soon be redeemed. Bob Baffert, the cotton-haired trainer, was suspended from the race for two years.
The silent wishes were fulfilled as the well-dressed and glamorous crowd enjoyed a thrilling and unexpected finale. Rich Strike was completely forgotten and made quite an impact as he won by half a length over the heavily-favored field. Rich Strike’s post-time odds at 83-1 were the best to win The Derby.
Even more amazing, he was barely allowed to be on the track.
An Oscar was just awarded to a seat-filler in the Academy Awards. #KentuckyDerby pic.twitter.com/HK2D53Ab9e
— Larry Kenneth Adams (@BuzzFarmer) May 7, 2022
Rich Strike wasn’t in the field on Friday morning, so D. Wayne Lukas, his trainer, had to remove Ethereal Road from the list. The horse next on the Road to Kentucky Derby’s list was tabbed.
The schedule that began in the previous fall is where horses earn points based upon finishing. They can also get an automatic bid for Louisville by winning certain Grade-1 races. Rich Strike came in 21st place with just $74,500 this season. All others earn between $100K and $1 million. He raced mostly on Turfway Park’s synthetic Turfway Park track and had only a Grade-3 victory. However, he finished fourth in the JohnBattaglia Memorial. This gave him enough points to be able to move into the vacant slot.
Rich Strike was able to quickly move into the post because Turfway is close enough from Churchill Downs. His shot was extended by being awarded the #20 gate as a substitute. In the century-and-a-half of Derbies the colt became the second winning horse from that spot. Sonny Leon was the Derby’s first rider and the replacement wasn’t considered to be a candidate until the end.
Leon settled his horse into the backstretch behind the middle, and then the pace picked up. Many of the favorite riders made their way to first place. Messier went away at 6-1 and led them through the long turn. Then, Epicenter, the favorite of the race, challenged him as they approached the finish. Rich Strike moved along the rail to find all sorts of room, so he crept up towards the end.
Messier started to fall directly in front, as you can clearly see Leon steering him to the left. That was when Rich Strike switched it on. Zandon and Epicenter were locked in an intense battle. However, inside was a horse who had his own goals and found a completely different gear. He quickly closed and then swept by them both, leaving many in the audience stunned. They looked at the programs to try and figure out who was the one that just took the greatest horse racing title.
Derby is known for its sexiness. Two-minutes of speed in sports It could take weeks, but people will still talk about how the unknown stole the roses.
This angle is incredible https://t.co/t5aHAAjvSK
— Mike Gray (@mikegray79) May 7, 2022
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