From claim to fame, Rich Strike springs 80-1 Kentucky Derby upset

May 8th, 2022

Sent off as the longest shot in the field at odds of 80-1, Rich Strike outran all expectations to post a stunning upset in Saturday’s 148th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs.

A brilliant ride from jockey Sonny Leon helped carry the chestnut three-year-old to victory against 19 rivals. The son of Keen Ice was content to race well off the pace as longshot Summer Is Tomorrow dashed to the lead through a blazing opening quarter-mile in :21.78, the fastest in Kentucky Derby history.

The intense pace continued through half a mile in :45.36 and six furlongs in 1:10.34, but the tempo began to wane around the far turn, giving late runners a chance to catch up. As race favorite Epicenter launched a rally from midfield, Rich Strike was busy threading his way through the pack, advancing outside, inside, and between rivals as every necessary opening came to fruition.

Epicenter struck the front in midstretch while closely pursued by Zandon, but Rich Strike had the winning momentum. Slipping through inside, Rich Strike forged clear late to win by three-quarters of a length.

Rich Strike completed the 1 1/4-miles in 2:02.61 to record the second-biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history, trailing only the 91-1 surprise from Donerail in 1913. Epicenter and Zandon rounded out the top three, followed by Simplification, Mo Donegal, Barber Road, Tawny Port, Smile Happy, Tiz the Bomb, Zozos, Classic Causeway, Taiba, Crown Pride, Happy Jack, Messier, White Abarrio, Charge It, Cyberknife, Pioneer of Medina, and Summer Is Tomorrow.

Rich Strike with Sonny Leon aboard wins the 148th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs (Photo by

Produced by the Smart Strike mare Gold Strike, Rich Strike was bred by Calumet Farm. He started his career in the Calumet colors and soon won a $30,000 maiden claimer at Churchill Downs by 17 1/4 lengths, a race from which he was claimed by trainer Eric Reed on behalf of current owners RED TR-Racing.

A third-place finish in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) prior to the Kentucky Derby left Rich Strike first on the also-eligible list to compete at Churchill Downs, but the withdrawal of Ethereal Road on Friday morning gave Rich Strike a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

Anyone who bet on the Derby winner enjoyed a rich strike of their own. The longshot winner paid $163.60 to win, $74.20 to place, and $29.40 to show. Epicenter returned $7.40 to place and $5.20 to show, while Zandon paid $5.60 to show. The $2 exacta returned $4,101.20, the 50-cent trifecta $7,435.35, the $1 superfecta $321,500.10, and the $1 Super High 5 $741,018.90.