There are relatively few horseracing events which attract worldwide media attention and substantial crowds. We're lucky enough to be near one such event in the Cheltenham Festival, but in May, it's Kentucky that holds sway for the annual Run for the Roses. Over 147,000 spectators crammed into Churchill Downs to enjoy this year's renewal.
The 148th edition of the Kentucky Derby saw a shock as long-shot Rich Strike outran the field to finish first in the Run for the Roses. The horse had run in a mere seven races prior to winning the Kentucky Derby, coming away victorious in just one of those events. For the most part, Rich Strike was a novice on dirt but came up trumps at Churchill Downs.
Rich Strike wasn’t even expected to face the starter in the Kentucky Derby. The horse was only added to the list of runners on Friday when another horse was scratched from the competition. Ethereal Road was scratched from the field and Rich Strike was given the No. 21 saddle cloth. Remarkably, Rich Strike had run on synthetic turf in the last three races. Few race bettors would have believed Rich Striker had a chance of finishing in the top three, much less first, at the start of the day.
The international horse racing season is just heating up around the world. More major races are set to take place over the coming months, including, over here, the Derby and RoyalM Ascot, and in Australia, the legendary Melbourne Cup. Bettors are anticipating the famous race and for more information about the Melbourne Cup history, fans can get up to date on all of the happenings before wagering on it.
The Kentucky Derby welcomed over 147,000 horse racing fans to the famous Churchill Downs racecourse in Louisville, Kentucky. Millions more horse racing fans viewed the event on television. The Kentucky Derby offers a total of $3million in prize money. Rich Strike received a first-place prize of $1.8m. Second-place finisher Epicenter won $600,000 and third-place Zandon received $300,000. It's a race in which European runners have yet to land a punch.
Rich Strike paid $163.60 on bets the horse won and $74.20 on bets that he would finish first or second, and was the second highest priced horse ever to win the Kentucky Derby. In 1913, Donerail was priced at $184.90.
Rich Strike’s win is just the first race of the famous Triple Crown of American Thoroughbred Racing. The Reed-trained horse will now compete in the Preakness Stakes in late May and the Belmont Stakes in early June. Only 13 previous horses have won the Triple Crown. Famous Triple Crown winners include Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), American Pharaoh (2015), and Justify (2018).
Unfortunately, doping issues have overshadowed some of the action on the racecourse in Louisville. The race’s 2021 winner, Medina Spirit, was later disqualified after testing positive for betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory steroid. The race win was later awarded to Mandaloun in February 2022. The disqualification saw legendary trainer Bob Baffert banned from horse racing for 90 days. He is allowed back in June.
The Kentucky Derby race win on Saturday was a day of redemption for Rich Strike’s trainer Reed. The horse trainer nearly retired from training in 2016 after a fire destroyed his training center. The fire took the lives of 23 horses. Reed rebuilt his equine training center and will now prepare for the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.