by Beth Harris
Louisville, Q. ( Associated Press) — With favorites Epicenter and Xandon duel in front, Rich Strike was charging the rails for a surprising 80-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Jockey Sonny Leone directed a rich strike into the 20-horse field from behind and beat 4-1 favorite Epicenter by three-quarters of a length. Xandon was another three-quarters-length in third at Churchill Downs, in front of a crowd that included former President Donald Trump.
“I fell into the paddock when he hit the wire,” said winning trainer Eric Reid. “I’m about to pass out.”
Rich Strike started the second biggest upset in the race’s 148-year history, paying $163.60 to win. In 1913 only Donnerell received an overpayment of $184.90.
Rich Strike ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.61.
After pulling out of his much-expensive competition, Rich Strike playfully chops off the pony carrying it into the winner’s circle.
Rich Strike wasn’t even in the Derby area until Friday when Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lucas scratched the ethereal road, making room for the Eric Reid-trained chestnut colt.
“We found out about 30 seconds before the Friday deadline,” Dawson said. “It put us in the race and really we always felt like we got a shot if we got on the bus.”
Venezuela’s Leon and Reid were both in their first derby. Leon regularly rides on shorter circuits, including in Ohio. Reed faced a tragedy five years ago when he lost nearly two dozen horses in a barn at his training center in Lexington.
Leon’s rail ride was reminiscent of jockey Calvin Borrell’s stealth moves aboard Mine That Bird in 2009. Mine That Bird made the Derby’s third biggest upset at the time, paying $103.20 to win.
“When I was in the last 70 yards, I said, ‘I think I got the race,'” Lyon said.
Rich Strike was purchased by Dawson, who runs as Red TR-Racing LLC, for $30,000 the last time Colt was entered into a low-level claim race by former owner Calumet Farms.
Calumet Farms owner Brad Kelly may now be ruining that decision. Calumet Farms has won a record eight Kentucky Derbys, but none since 1968, when the forward pass was ranked first via disqualification.
Rich Strike earned $1.86 million for the second win of his career. Colt lost to Xandon in the Blue Grass Stakes last month and was beaten by Epicenter in the Louisiana Derby in March.
Simplification was fourth and Mo Donegal was fifth.
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