• Rich Strike wins Kentucky Derby in biggest upset since 1913
  • Longest shot in field was late replacement for Ethereal Road
  • Favorites Epicenter and Zandon took second and third place

 

Kentucky Derby
Rich Strike (21), with Sonny Leon aboard, beats Epicenter (3), with Joel Rosario aboard, at the finish line to win the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby. Photograph: Mark Humphrey/AP
 

Jockey Sonny Leon guided Rich Strike from far back in the 20-horse field to beat 4-1 favorite Epicenter by three-quarters of a length. Zandon was another three-quarters of a length back in third at Churchill Downs in front of a crowd that included former US president Donald Trump.

“I about fell down in the paddock when he hit the wire,” winning trainer Eric Reed said. “I about passed out.”

Rich Strike triggered the second-biggest upset in the race’s 148-year history, paying $163.60 to win. Only Donerail in 1913 had a higher payout of $184.90.

Rich Strike wasn’t even in the Derby field until Friday when Hall of Fame trainer D Wayne Lukas scratched Ethereal Road, making room for the chestnut colt trained by Eric Reed.

“We found out about 30 seconds before the deadline on Friday,” Dawson said. “It put us in the race and really we always felt if we just got in we’ve got a shot.”

Both Leon, from Venezuela, and Reed were in their first Derby. Leon regularly rides on small circuits, including Ohio.

Reed endured a tragedy five years ago when he lost nearly two dozen horses in a barn fire at his training center in Lexington.

Leon’s rail ride was reminiscent of jockey Calvin Borel’s stealth move aboard Mine That Bird in 2009. Mine That Bird sprang what was then the Derby’s third-biggest upset, paying $103.20 to win.

“When I was in the last 70 yards, I said, ‘I think I got this race,’” Leon said.

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 former owner Calumet Farm.

Calumet Farm owner Brad Kelley might be ruing that decision now. Calumet Farm has won a record eight Kentucky Derbies, but none since 1968, when Forward Pass was placed first via disqualification.

Rich Strike earned $1.86m for just his second career victory. The colt lost to Zandon in the Blue Grass Stakes last month and was beaten by Epicenter in the Louisiana Derby in March.

Simplification finished fourth and Mo Donegal was fifth.

Main Picture: Sonny Leon celebrates after riding Rich Strike to victory in the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. (Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

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