Unlikely Odds

Longshot Rich Strike wins the Kentucky Derby


Photo by kybluegrass, wikimedia.org

The Barbaro Memorial Statue, as it sits in front of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.

Since 1875, a racetrack in Louisville, Ky. has held the longest-running sporting event in the United States- The Kentucky Derby. Dubbed the “Run for the Roses,” the Derby features three-year-old thoroughbreds racing a distance of 1.25 miles. Today, nearly 150,000 spectators gather annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, all according to britannica.com.

This year’s winner, Rich Strike, was not even supposed to be in the field for the Derby. He had been entered as an alternate by trainer Eric Reed and owner Rick Dawson. After Ethereal Road was scratched, Rich Strike entered the field on Friday morning. He was entered at 80-1 odds, the longest shot in the race, and came into Churchill Downs on a five-race losing streak. Even with all odds against him, Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby, causing a major upset among the spectators, all according to usatoday.com.

Rich Strike’s name was only said twice throughout the day by NBC commentator Larry Collmus. Once while he was going through the horses in the race, and a final time when Rich Strike overtook horses Epicenter and Zandon. No one expected him to win the race, as only 0.1% of the wagers made were in favor of the horse, according to forbes.com.

After a slow start, Jockey Sonny Leon and Rich Strike began the race in 18th place out of 20. Leon followed the inside rail for as long as he could, weaving around multiple other racers and closing in on Epicenter and Zandon. In the final 10 seconds of the race, Rich Strike managed to pull ahead of both Epicenter and Zandon, winning the race in the second biggest upset in the history of the Kentucky Derby, all according to nbcsports.com.