The 2022 Kentucky Derby was one for the ages – the modern ages, at least.
Rich Strike, at 80-1, came from deep in the pack to win, stunning favorite Epicenter and Zandon, who were dueling in the stretch. He was in 18th place after 3/4 of a mile, and jockey Sonny Leon weaved through traffic around the final turn and in the stretch to pull off the biggest Kentucky Derby upset since 1913.
Kentucky Derby 2022 race replay
“He passed 'em all," trainer Eric Reed said after the race. “I didn’t think I could win necessarily, but I knew… they’d know who he was when the race was over.”
Here's a quick look at the 2022 Run for the Roses.
Epicenter and Joel Rosario had seized the lead in deep stretch after stalking a lively pace that included fractions 21.78, 45.36 and six furlongs in 1:10.34. Zandon, who was well off the pace as expected, uncorked his patented late move to challenge the leader at the eighth pole, but bursting through on the inside came Rich Strike to pull off the shocker.
The winning time for 1 1/4 miles on a fast track was 2:02.61. Epicenter outlasted Zandon for second, with Simplification checking in fourth followed by Mo Donegal.
Rich Strike made the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby only after Ethereal Road was scratched on the day before the big race. This was the first Derby for both Reed and Leon.
Rich Strike returned $163.60, which is the second-highest payout ever in a Kentucky Derby. Donerail still holds the biggest Derby upset when he paid $184.90 in 1913. More recently, Country House paid $132.40 in 2019 after Maximum Security crossed the wire but was disqualified for interference.
By Keen Ice out of the Smart Strike mare Gold Strike, Rich Strike is owned by RED TR-Racing. His only win before the Derby came against $30,000 maiden-claimers at Churchill Downs in September 2021. His last three starts were on the synthetic track at Turfway Park, including a third in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) and fourth in the John Battaglia Memorial.
Rich Strike's connections decided not to pursue the Triple Crown, opting out of the Preakness to follow their initial plan to point the colt to the Belmont Stakes.
Kentucky Derby payouts
As noted above, Rich Strike paid $163.60 to win. Here are the rest of the payouts for the Kentucky Derby.
|21 Rich Strike||$163.30||$74.20||$29.40|
|Super High Five, 21-3-10-13-1||$1,482,037.80|
Kentucky Derby 2022 chart
Equibase provides the official Kentucky Derby charts. You can see the Kentucky Derby 2022 chart here.
Here's another look at Leon's trip:
The Rich Strike backstory
Rich Strike was foaled on April 25, 2019, at Calumet Farm in central Kentucky.
He had his first race in August 2021. With Ricardo Santana Jr. riding for trainer Joe Sharp, he finished last of 10 horses in a one-mile turf race for maidens at Ellis Park. After being sent off at odds of 9-2, he never was closer than 6 1/4 lengths at any call.
He broke his maiden the next month after his trainer added blinkers, moved the colt to dirt and switched to jockey Adam Beschizza. He won the one-turn mile at Churchill Downs by 17 lengths. It was a $51,500 claiming race, and the winner was bought for $30,000 by Reed on behalf of new owner Rick Dawson’s RED-TR Racing.
In October, with Reed training and Julien Leparoux riding, Rich Strike bobbled at the start, grazed a rival, got steadied on the first turn and closed to finish third at odds of 9-2 in a one-mile dirt allowance at Keeneland.
Then it was on to stakes. In December, at 46-1 Rich Strike was the longest shot on the board for the 1 1/16-mile Smarty Jones Stakes at Fair Grounds, a new Kentucky Derby points prep. With Sonny León riding him for the first time, he finished fifth, 14 lengths behind Epicenter.
In January, Rich Strike closed from eighth to finish third as an 8-1 shot in the one-mile Leonatus Stakes, a black-type race on the Tapeta track at Turfway.
Next out, in March, Rich Strike finished a head better than Erase in a battle for fourth place in the John Battaglia Memorial, which was in its second year as a Derby qualifying prep.
His final race before the Kentucky Derby was in the Jeff Ruby (G3) at Turfway. León and Rich Strike were as far back as 8 1/4 lengths in 11th place before they rallied to come in third, good for 20 Derby qualifying points.
Those points, plus, critically, the one point earned in the Battaglia, were just enough for Rich Strike to edge out Rattle N Roll to be drawn as the first also-eligible for the Kentucky Derby.
On the day before the race, Reed was told that Rich Strike would not be drawn into the Derby, so he started preparing the colt for the Peter Pan (G3) the following week. Then he learned of Ethereal Road's scratch.
Check out this timeline of how Rich Strike, Eric Reed and Sonny Leon won the Kentucky Derby.
Rich Strike's dam, Gold Strike, has an interesting backstory of her own. The former Canadian champion was given to Austin Nicks, who rehomes Thoroughbreds at his Indiana farm. Three days later, her son won the Kentucky Derby. Read the full story here.
Order of finish
Here's how the 20-horse field finished: