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Rich Strike wins the Kentucky Derby delivering the second-biggest upset in Derby history

The Kentucky Derby continues to shock viewers and attendees as the winner of Saturday’s race defied 80-1 odds to win in a surprise victory at Churchill Downs.

The winning horse, Rich Strike, delivered an upset loss to Epicenter and Zandon, the two steeds favored to win, while they engaged in a duel for first at the front, the Associated Press reported.

Rich Strike, a chestnut colt, beat the 4-1 favorite Epicenter by three-quarters of a length while Zandon finished another three-quarters of a length behind Epicenter in third.

Rich Strike’s come-from-behind win marks the second-biggest upset in the Kentucky Debry’s 148-year history.

Eric Reed, the winning horse’s trainer, said, “I about fell down in the paddock when he hit the wire. I about passed out.”

Kenny McPeek, a trainer whose horses finished eighth and ninth, remarked that the shocking win was “crazy.”

“What a crazy Derby,” McPeek said.

Part of what makes Rich Strike’s victory such a surprise is that the horse wasn’t even supposed to be in the race until the day prior when Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas took Ethereal Road out of the race in favor of Rich Strike.

Rich Strike’s owner, Rick Dawson, said, “We found out about 30 seconds before the deadline on Friday. It puts us in the race and really we always felt if we just got in we’ve got a shot.”

Steve Asmussen, the trainer of Epicenter, said, “I can’t believe it after Epicenter’s effort. I got beat by a horse that just got in.”

This loss makes Asmussen 0 for 24 in Derby races.

Rich Strike’s jockey, Sonny Leon, had only two horses beat prior to his come from behind victory. Leon was able to guide his horse between the competition and to the inside rail which made it easier for him to pick off Epicenter and Zandon.

Leon typically rides on some of the country’s smaller horse circuits where horses are not nearly as exuberantly priced and the gamblers are far less affluent.

Dawson purchased Rich Strike for $30,000 last fall. This investment proved worthwhile as Rich Strike earned $1.86 million for winning the Derby.

Rich Strike’s victory continues the recently established tradition of odd-ball derbies.

In 2019, the winning horse was disqualified for interference; in 2020, there were no fans allowed in the stands of Churchill Downs due to COVID-19 restrictions and the race was pushed back until that September; and in 2021, the race’s winner, Medina Spirit, was disqualified for having failed post-race drug test.