Rich Strike team gets tattooed before Lukas Classic

Rich Strike team gets tattooed before Lukas Classic
Photo: Ron Flatter

Pictured (from left): Gary Dunlap, Ryan Cook, Rick Dawson, Scott Wilson, Eric Reed, Jack Willoughby, Ken Tyson and Pete Sherrow.

Louisville, Ky.

Kentucky Derby winners come and go, but the memories are forever. So are tattoos commemorating it.

Owner Rick Dawson, trainer Eric Reed and five others on their team got themselves inked Saturday with some form of 21, which was the number Rich Strike wore when he scored at 80-1 odds May 7 in the Kentucky Derby. They did it hours before the colt’s return to racing at Churchill Downs in the Lukas Classic (G2).

“Eric brought it up that we ought to get some team label,” said Dawson, who races horses under the business name RED TR-Racing. “So we did the team tattoo. Of course, 21 seemed to be the appropriate symbol of our group, and everybody loved it.”

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Dawson had the 21 put on his hand. It was surrounded by roses, the likes of which Rich Strike won after scoring the second biggest upset in the pari-mutuel history of the Kentucky Derby. Reed and some others on the team went just for the number, mostly on their hands but some on their shoulders and one woman at the top of her back.

“Pete Sherrow brought us together,” said Reed, referring to the mutual friend who introduced him as a young man to Dawson, the owner of the Redsky Land oil and natural-gas company in Oklahoma. “The three of us have a bond.”

It was not like this was going to be an easy sell. Neither Dawson, 66, nor Sherrow, 83, ever had been tattooed.

“Pete’s from a generation where you don’t get one unless you’re in the Army,” Reed said. “I said, ‘I think we should all get a 21 like blood brothers. It’d be for us. We would take it to our graves.’”

The group poured into Zoe’s Tattoos & Piercings about three miles north of Churchill Downs around lunchtime Saturday. Suddenly, the four people in the shop were focused on creating a celebratory memory for team Rich Strike. Word of mouth got more than a few people inside to see what was happening.

Tattoo rookie Dawson said it did not hurt a bit. At least not yet.

“I hope it doesn’t,” he said. “There’s a vibration, and the new equipment is pretty good. I would have never, ever done this before, but now it’s a very special reason, so what the heck?”

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