Rich Strike’s shocking win in the 2022 Kentucky Derby at 80-1 odds has been attributed by some observers to likely be a fluke.  The upcoming Belmont Stakes on June 11 will provide a better look into whether this view is correct.

In the colt’s final workout at Churchill Downs on May 30, on a fast track, he covered 5 furlongs in 59 seconds and 6 furlongs in 1:12 flat.  Galloping out, he seemed to indicate that, given the right ride, stamina for the 1 ½ mile Belmont will no problem. Since arriving at Belmont Park, he has become acclimated to the track through long and easy gallops that further his conditioning.

Rich Strike’s sire, Keen Ice (by Curlin, second in the Belmont), defeated American Pharoah in the 2015 1 ¼ mile Travers.  He earned $3,407,245 from 24 starts, with 3 wins, 4 places, and 5 shows.  He ran second in the Haskell Invitational, third in the Belmont, third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic as a 4-year-old, won the Suburban as a 5-year-old, and was on the board in other prestigious races.  Rich Strike’s dam, Cold Strike, is by Smart Strike and had a racing record of 4 wins, 3 places, and a show from 9 starts, with career earnings of $564,500. 

Rich Strike has a record of 2 wins, 0 places, and 3 shows from 8 starts.  His performances range from winning the Kentucky Derby to being claimed by his present owner in a $30,000 maiden claiming race as a 2-year-old. 

The colt’s pedigree and the way he won the Kentucky Derby indicate that a 1 ½ mile race is well within his capacity.  A handicapping wild card is that his jockey, Sonny Leon, has not ridden at Belmont Park.  Vastly more experienced and more celebrated jockeys have made the mistake in the Belmont of moving too soon.  One wonders about Leon’s sense of pace, as the data are scant.

Another unknown is what the pace will be like in the Belmont.  Rich Strike was able to come from far back to win the Derby because of a blistering pace, a masterful ride, and racing luck.  Barring an exceptionally fast pace in the Belmont, Leon will have to position the colt closer to the lead than in the Derby.  As for his competition in the Belmont, the rest of the field looks pedestrian.

Rich Strike may be a late-blooming colt who is coming into the Belmont well rested, finely tuned, and set to advance.  But his odds will likely be too low to compensate a bettor for the risks involved. 

Copyright © 2022 Horse Racing Business