Rich Strike, who upon a very late scratch only was only guaranteed a stall in the Kentucky Derby starting gate the day before the race, blazed through the field and passed two top favorites — Epicenter and Zandon, who were dueling in the last furlongs — to bring off one of the greatest long-shot upsets in Derby history. Rich Strike broke from the outside post position and simply ran a brilliant race. Epicenter managed to place, and Zandon proved his mettle in show.
But the race truly belonged to the usurper, who paid a hearty $163.60 to win on a $2.00 bet. The $2 exacta paid a bright $4,101.20. With the victory, Rich Strike literally re-writes the history of the race; gauged from his odds, his is the second-largest upset victory in Derby history, the only greater upset having occurred in 1913 by winner Donerail, who carried 91-1 odds. Rich Strike carried no morning line odds since he hadn’t secured his invitation to run on May 2.
In fact, there was little time for the oddsmakers and players to study him since Ethereal Road was only scratched on May 6, literally within 24 hours of post time on May 7. Rich Strike was trained by Eric Reed and ridden by his formidable jockey, Sonny Leon, both of whom will now become far better known than they were just an hour ago. It was Mr. Leon’s first ride in the Kentucky Derby, and it was an accidental one, thanks primarily to Ethereal Road’s scratch.
Rich Strike bore the saddle cloth No. 21, and broke from Ethereal Road’s No. 20 post position, on the far outside of Churchill Downs’ new 20-horse gate. With four career starts to his name, none of which were in 2022, Rich Strike was arguably best known, and mostly discounted, for his lackluster fifth-place run last December against Epicenter at Louisiana’s Fair Grounds. It was his last race prior to today’s masterful performance, during which the chestnut colt seemed wholly to have forgotten that defeat as he easily ground down Epicenter, and a very busy Zandon hanging on to second, down the stretch to the wire.