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The Remarkable Story of Rich Strike: The Kentucky Derby's Most Unexpected Winner

Date: 03/10/2023

We are less than a couple of months away from the biggest flat race in US horse racing, the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs Racetrack plays host to the most watched Group/Grade 1 race in the sport stateside, attracting some of the finest thoroughbreds. Already attentions are turning towards the potential winners of this year's race, with Arabian Knight the current +500 favorite in the eyes of FanDuel Sportsbook, which expanded from daily fantasy sports into sports betting in 2018. The latest available FanDuel promo code could be used as a risk-free wager on this year's Kentucky Derby, with losses covered on first wagers up to $1,000.

Although the likes of Arabian Knight and second favorite Forte are uppermost in the minds of Kentucky Derby fans, it will be hard for anyone betting on last year's race to ever forget the 2022 Kentucky Derby winner, Rich Strike. The +8000 rank outsider was given an implied probability of 1.2% to win, having been entered into the race at the last minute from the also-eligible list due to Ethereal Road's withdrawal the day before.

Rich Strike's connections had little time to prepare for the Kentucky Derby

Trained by Eric Reed, Rich Strike had only been given seven competitive races prior to his entry into Derby Day. Reed admits his training farm weren't expecting him to run at Churchill Downs, but state steward Barbara Borden called Reed on the Friday morning to invite him to draw Rich Strike into the Derby.

Reed then frantically hatched a plan for the race along with jockey Sonny Leon. Their initial view was to try to claim an inside rail position and aim to shorten the race distance. Reed couldn't believe his eyes as Rich Strike powered into the turn and stormed through the middle of a cluster of 12-14 horses to run clear and become one of the most popular winners in recent Kentucky Derby memory.

It's been a long, arduous road to glory for Reed. His training stables were struck by a fire in 2016, destroying part of his barns and killing multiple thoroughbreds. In fact, just a third of his stable survived the fire. Reed had to wait seven long years for some kind of divine retribution. The victory in the 2022 Derby saw Rich Strike bag $1.86m. He had the second-longest odds of any Kentucky Derby champion in history, with only long shot Donerail winning with bigger odds way back in 1913, running at +9100.

Rich Strike's connections opted not to enter him into the Preakness Stakes, with a view to running him again in the Belmont Stakes, maintaining his normal racing cycle. He started the race as third favorite at +400, but never managed to display the kind of running power on show at Churchill Downs. So much so that Reed said he "wasn't the same horse" post-race.

Now and again, the stars align for an unfancied horse to have their moment in the sun and May 7, 2022 was surely Rich Strike's.

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