Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike works at Churchill Downs

Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike works at Churchill Downs
Photo: Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

RED-TR Racing’s Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike returned to the Churchill Downs work tab Saturday morning with a swift half-mile move in 47.2 seconds in preparation for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.

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The 80-1 upset winner of this year’s $3 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve breezed with rider Gabe Lagunes in the saddle through an opening quarter-mile fraction of 22.8 seconds and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.6.

“Skipping the Preakness was still one of the toughest decisions I had to make as a trainer,” said Eric Reed, who stood alongside owner Rick Dawson for the work. “I just don’t think he would’ve been mentally ready to run against those horses again.”

Reed originally reported Rich Strike would van to Belmont next week but will now keep the Derby winner in Barn 17 at Churchill until May 31. He’s tentatively scheduled to work again Monday, May 30.

“He does so well here I just didn’t want to change anything yet,” Reed said. “He’ll get eight or nine days at Belmont to gallop and get used to the surface.”

Jockey Sonny Leon, who rode Rich Strike to victory in the Derby, will have the return mount in the Belmont.

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