Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Rich Strike, the underdog who finished first in this year’s Kentucky Derby, will not be racing the Preakness Stakes in Maryland this weekend, forfeiting his chances of winning the Triple Crown, one of the most coveted titles in horse racing.
After speaking with his team, Rich Strike owner Rick Dawson said his champion horse will not ride next Saturday in the Preakness Stakes, the Triple Crown’s second stop at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course. Instead, the RED TR-Racing team will focus on the series’ third stop, the Belmont Stakes in New York, scheduled for June.
The team will continue with a plan laid out before Rich Strike, aka Ritchie, caused one of the biggest disruptions in Kentucky Derby history last weekend.
“Obviously with our tremendous effort and victory in the Derby, it’s very, very tempting to change our course and run in the Preakness at Pimlico, which would be a great honor for our entire group,” Dawson said in a statement on Thursday. “However, after much discussion and consideration with my trainer, Eric Reed and a few others, we are sticking to our plan of what is best for Ritchie is what is best for our group.”
With Ritchie leaving Pimlico, there will be no Triple Crown winner this year. Only 13 horses have won all three stops of the series, a feat known by many, if not all, as the greatest title in competitive horse racing.
Dawson said the plan has always been that if Ritchie ran in Kentucky — depending on the outcome and the horse’s condition — he would skip the Preakness Stakes and instead push for Belmont or another five- or six-week race. rests under his belt.
Ritchie secured his place in the race just a day before the Derby. Another horse, Ethereal Road, dropped out, giving Rich Strike the chance he needed to resolve his anger. Rich Strike and his jockey, Sonny Leon, waited until the end of the race to make their move, while the favourites, Epicenter and Zandon, took an early lead, according to a Kentucky Derby press release.
No one saw it coming as Rich Strike made his breakthrough for the win, overtaking Epicenter and Zandon in the final stretch.
“I didn’t know if he could win, but I had a good feeling about him,” Leon said in a press release. “I had to wait for the piece and that’s what I did. I waited and then the railing opened. I wasn’t nervous, I was excited. Nobody knows my horse like I know my horse.”