Horse racing is not a sport that usually dominates the sports news headlines, but that’s not the case during the race to the Triple Crown. The first step of the Triple Crown is the Kentucky Derby, and the 2022 race will go down as one of the most surprising races in history.
Rich Strike won the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby as an 80-1 longshot, becoming the second-biggest upset in Derby history. Epicenter and Zandon appeared to be battling for the top spot down the homestretch before Rich Strike made his remarkable run.
What made the win by Rich Strike even more unlikely was the fact that he wasn’t even in the Derby field until Friday. After Ethereal Road was scratched by trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Rich Strike was invited to join the field.
The final time for Rich Strike was 2:02.61, and the win came by three-quarters of a length. The epicenter was the favorite coming into the race, and that horse finished in a disappointing and shocking second place.
Sonny Leon was chosen as the jockey to ride Rich Strike, and this was the first time that the Venezuelan-born jockey ever appeared in the Kentucky Derby. Things looked bleak early for Rich Strike, but Leon was able to get to the inside to make his move down the homestretch.
Eric Reed is the head trainer for Rich Strike, and he almost got out of horse racing entirely five years ago. Reed trains horses at a farm near Lexington, and a fire caused him to lose more than 20 horses that were under his care.
For the first time in three years, Churchill Downs was back at full capacity for the Kentucky Derby. This stunning win by Rich Strike continued the strange series of events that have taken place recently at the most historic horse racing track in the United States.
Two of the last three previous winners were ultimately disqualified after the conclusion of the race, including Medina Spirit a year ago. The 2020 race was run without any fans in the stands due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Secret Oath Wins Kentucky Oaks
The Kentucky Derby is obviously the biggest race of the weekend, but it’s not the only race that is run. The Kentucky Oaks is a race run by fillies, and it takes place on Friday, the day before the Derby is held.
Secret Oath was the winner of the 2022 Kentucky Oaks, in the event that was open for full capacity as well. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas might have pulled his horse from the Kentucky Derby, but then got into the winner’s circle at the Kentucky Oaks.
The win by Secret Oath gave Lukas his fifth win at the Kentucky Oaks, but his first since 1990. Secret Oath ended up winning the race by two lengths over Nest, who was the favorite entering the event.
Secret Oath has now won five times in eight starts, and was able to bounce back from a third place finish at the Arkansas Derby. Lukas has just announced the withdrawal of Ethereal Road before celebrating the Kentucky Oaks win by his horse.
Nest came into this race having won three straight starts, and she remained near the front of the pack for the majority of the race. After getting passed by Secret Oath, Nest made an unsuccessful attempt to re-take the lead in the final seconds of the race.
Preakness Stakes Up Next
As soon as the Kentucky Derby celebration wraps up, attention immediately turns to the Preakness Stakes. The Preakness is the second leg of the Triple Crown, and it will be held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD on May 21.
The field for the Preakness Stakes won’t be announced until closer to the race, but Rich Strike will be one of the participants. Secret Oath could also show up and run the Preakness States as it was confirmed by Lukas as a possible option.
Epicenter and Zandon have not been confirmed to run at the Preakness Stakes, but they will be top contenders if that is the case. Past underdogs, Kentucky Derby winners, have run well at the Preakness Stakes, and Rich Strike could move to just one win away from the Triple Crown with another victory.