Rich Strike returns energetic from Monday’s Belmont gallop

RED TR-Racing’s Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike shortened up to 1 1/4 miles for his daily exercise on Monday and left the track wanting to do more in his daily gallop for Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.

Rich Strike had his typical morning routine, schooling through Belmont’s paddock before walking through the tunnel and onto the fast main track with regular exercise rider Gabriel Lagunes aboard.

Trainer Eric Reed stated he was pleased with the gallop, but knew Rich Strike needed to gallop farther when he had a spirited exit from the main track.

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“I didn’t gallop him hard enough because he came off the track rearing up,” said Reed, who typically gallops the Keen Ice chestnut 1 1/2 miles or farther. “I’ll have to do a little more with him tomorrow. We were trying not to push him too hard, but it’s like I always say, he lets you know when he wants to do more.”

The Belmont Stakes will be Rich Strike’s first start since he upset the Kentucky Derby at odds of 80-1 with an off-the-pace trip and rail-skimming ride from jockey Sonny Leon, tactics that Reed stated could be slightly different in the Test of the Champion.

“I’m not too worried about the draw either way. I would probably be fine with an outside post again just to let him get a spot – I think he’ll be a lot closer to the pace than anyone imagines,” stated Reed. “He’s gotten smarter and more aggressive.

The pace won’t be near what he’s used to running in any of his other races.

I could be wrong because he’ll do whatever he wants, but something tells me he’s going to be more aggressive on his own for this race. I think he’s changed for the better.

“I think even if he drops back out of the gate, it won’t take him as long to get where he needs to be anyway,” Reed added. “I think in the middle of the turn, if he’s within four or five lengths, they’ll have to deal with him.”

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