Rich Strike Will Bypass Preakness Stakes, Will Train Instead for Belmont

Posted on: May 12, 2022, 10:47h. 

Last updated on: May 12, 2022, 04:54h.

Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike will not pursue a Triple Crown. Owner Rick Dawson said in a statement published by the Maryland Jockey Club Thursday that his 3-year-old colt will bypass the Preakness Stakes at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course on May 21.

Rich Strike
Rich Strike, seen here pulling away to a shocking Kentucky Derby win last Saturday, will not race in the May 21 Preakness Stakes, owner Rick Dawson said in a statement Thursday. (Image: Kentucky Derby/Twitter)

Instead, the connections plan to train for next month’s Belmont Stakes.

In the statement, Dawson said their plan for the horse was contingent on getting in the Derby. The colt was an also-eligible and got into the race last Friday just moments before the deadline, as trainer D. Wayne Lukas scratched his entry, Ethereal Road. Rich Strike then entered the race and shocked the world as an 80-1 long shot. His win was just the second for a horse that broke from the 20th gate and produced the second-largest payout in the 148 runnings of the event.

After the monumental win, Dawson pointed to the regimen trainer Eric Reed held in prepping Rich Strike for the Derby. That included a schedule where he did not race more than five weeks apart, which is the time between the Kentucky Derby and Belmont.

Obviously, with our tremendous effort and win in the Derby it’s very, very tempting to alter our course and run in the Preakness at Pimlico, which would be a great honor for all our group,” Dawson said. “However, after much discussion and consideration with my trainer, Eric Reed, and a few others, we are going to stay with our plan of what’s best for Ritchie is what’s best for our group.”

Epicenter, the post-time Derby favorite Rich Strike chased down in the final strides, is expected to run in the Preakness. So, too, is Kentucky Oaks-winning filly Secret Oath, also trained by Lukas.

KHRC Says No Failed Derby Drug Tests This Year

The decision to withhold Rich Strike from the Preakness comes one day after the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) announced there no Derby runners failed their post-race drug test.

Last year, Medina Spirit was the first under the wire and received the garland of roses for winning the prestigious race. However, reports came out a week later that the Bob Baffert-trained colt had excessive amounts of betamethasone in his system.

The inquiry would last for months as the courts became involved regarding questions on handling the split sample. Eventually, KHRC stewards disqualified Medina Spirit as the winner and issued a 90-day suspension to Baffert. The trainer is currently serving the suspension, but he’s also appealing the ruling.

Churchill Downs also handed down a two-year suspension last year after the failed drug test. That decision barred the legendary trainer from racing horses at any of the company’s tracks. It also prohibited any Baffert-trained horse from earning qualifying points for either the Kentucky Derby or Kentucky Oaks.

Baffert is challenging Churchill Downs’ ban in federal court.

Who Will Run in the Preakness

The field for the Preakness won’t be set until next week. But, besides Epicenter and Secret Oath, there have been a few others who have already committed to the 1-3/16th-mile race.

That includes Fountain of Youth Stakes winner Simplification, who finished fourth in the Derby, and Early Voting. Chad Brown trains the latter colt, who earned enough points to race in the Kentucky Derby, but his connections decided to point him toward the second jewel in the Triple Crown instead.

Another horse expected to run is Creative Minister. Trainer Kenny McPeak described his colt as a late bloomer. He didn’t race last year. This year, he started with a second-place finish in a maiden race at Gulfstream Park in March. Since then, he’s rattled off back-to-back wins in a maiden race last month at Keeneland and an allowance race on the Kentucky Derby undercard.

“Last year as a 2-year-old, he had development issues, just needed more time,” McPeek said. “We kept giving him more time, and he didn’t make the races until early March. But he’s really shown composure and talent. You don’t get many opportunities for these things. His race Saturday was ultra-impressive.”

Another possibility is Un Ojo. The one-eyed winner of the Arkansas Derby at 75-1 was set to enter the Kentucky Derby until a minor foot bruise forced his connections to scratch him before the draw.