The Kentucky Derby delivered the biggest upset we’ve seen in 109 years, but what happened after the winner crossed the line was disturbing.
Rich Strike, an 80-1 longshot who only got into the field on Saturday, pulled off a stunning upset victory in the 148th Kentucky Derby on Sunday.
The colt, trained by Eric Reed and ridden by Sonny Leon, gained a place in the field when Ethereal Road was scratched.
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Rich Strike powered ahead on the final straight to snatch the victory in the final strides at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, to win the most iconic event on the American racing calendar.
Zandon and Epicenter, two of the favourites in a wide-open field of 20, were duelling down the stretch, having overtaken Japanese raider Crown Pride.
But Rich Strike surged past on the inside for the greatest upset in terms of odds since 1913, when 91-1 longshot Donerail won the first event in US flat racing’s Triple Crown.
Epicenter, trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Joel Rosario, was second and Zandon, trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Flavien Prat, was third.
Rich Strike was fired up after the win and tried to bite his escort horse as they made their way to the winner’s circle. It prompted the escort’s rider to “punch” the winner in the face.
Asmussen remained without a victory in 24 Kentucky Derby starts.
“I fell down in the paddock when he hit the wire,” Reed said. “I about passed out! I am so happy.”
The chestnut colt’s only prior victory came at Churchill Downs in September. But owner Richard Dawson said he wouldn’t have entered the horse if he didn’t think he had a chance.
“Never, ever would Eric and I put a horse in a race we didn’t think we could win,” he said.
“We just knew that we had a shot because every time he went longer he got better. Today he went a mile and a quarter and he just kept going.”
The Triple Crown resumes in two weeks with the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, Maryland, and concludes in June with the Belmont Stakes in New York.
Originally published as Horse punched in the face after historic Kentucky Derby win