Kentucky Derby long-shot winner Rich Strike will not race in the Preakness Stakes on May 21.
Owner Rick Dawson said in a statement: “Our original plan for Rich Strike was contingent on the KY Derby, should we not run in the Derby we would point toward the Preakness, should we run in the Derby, subject to the race outcome & the condition of our horse, we would give him more recovery time & rest and run in the Belmont, or another race and stay on course to run with 5 or 6 weeks rest between races.”
Rich Strike entered the Derby as an 80-1 long shot. With 4-1 favorite Epicenter and Zandon engaged in a duel at the front, Rich Strike stole the show with the second-biggest upset in the Derby’s 148-year history.
The chestnut colt defeated Epicenter by three-quarters of a length. Zandon finished another three-quarters of a length back in third.
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Rich Strike paid $163.60. Only Donerail in 1913 had a higher payout, at $184.90.
Rich Strike was purchased by Dawson, who races as RED TR-Racing LLC, for $30,000 last fall when the colt was entered in a low-level claiming race by his former owner.
Rich Strike was not expected to be the morning line favorite for the Preakness, with Epicenter and Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath set to be part of the field. He could have been the first Derby winner not to go off as the Preakness post time favorite since 2012 when I’ll Have Another won the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
With Rich Strike’s surprise withdrawal, the Preakness will go on without the official Derby champion for the second time in four years. Country House and disqualified winner Maximum Security skipped the race in 2019. Mandaloun, who was elevated to the 2021 Derby victory long after Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance not allowed on race day, also did not run in the Preakness.
With Rich Strike pointing to the Belmont, the Preakness appears to be a wide open race with horses back from the Derby, potentially including Zandon and fourth-place finisher Simplification. Trainer Chad Brown is also expected to enter Early Voting.
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