Kentucky Derby 2022 Winner: Eric Reed, Rich Strike's Celebration, Reaction

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2022

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 07: Rich Strike (L) with Sonny Leon up and Mo Donegal (R) with Iran Ortiz Jr. up head toward the first turn during the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 07, 2022 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

In one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike, who came into the Run for the Roses dead last in the field at 80-1 odds, emerged victorious.

The chestnut colt, who is trained by Eric R. Reed and owned by RED TR-Racing, LLC, wasn't even expected to run in the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby. He entered as the first alternate Friday morning after Ethereal Road was scratched. 

The win was the first for jockey Sonny Leon, who expertly navigated the three-year-old colt to the front of the pack after starting at gate No. 21.

Leon and Rich Strike maneuvered past some horses early on, then took their position on the rail and surged to the front of the pack as the front-runners began to tire. 

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You can watch the full replay of the race below:

NBC Sports @NBCSports

WHERE DID HE COME FROM!? Rich Strike (80-1) comes down the stretch to score one of the biggest upset wins in @KentuckyDerby history. #KyDerby https://t.co/NPsYvPauVc

It was the second-biggest upset of all time at the Derby. The biggest belongs to Donerail, who won the Derby at 91-1 odds all the way back in 1913.

Last year, in his second career start, Rich Strike won his maiden claiming race at Churchill Downs by 17 1/4 lengths and was claimed by trainer Reed for $30,000 as a result for owner Rick Dawson and RED TR-Racing.

In the Run for the Roses, Rich Strike and his team claimed a $1.86 million purse with their win. 

It was an emotional win for Dawson and Reed for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that Reed lost 23 horses in a stable fire in December 2016 and never thought he'd enter one in the Derby. 

"It's almost unimaginable, to be honest," Reed said before Rich Strike had been entered into the race as an alternate, per Marty McGee of Daily Racing Form. "I never thought this would even be a possibility. We just don't have clients that go out looking for those kinds of horses."

It was Reed's first Derby win. 

"This is the reason everybody does this," an emotional Reed said on the NBC broadcast after the upset win. "We're not supposed to be here, but I knew this horse loved the track and he'd been training so good all year."

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.@KentuckyDerby-winning trainer Eric Reed and his family were overcome with emotion following Rich Strike's longshot victory. ❤️ #KyDerby https://t.co/edqX0V3vbX

"Thanks to Rick for getting me here," Reed added. "And Sonny Leon. They know who he is now."

For his part, Rich Strike seemed emboldened by his Derby win. The cameras caught him antagonizing his lead pony repeatedly as his team tried to get ready for their big moment in the winner's circle. Spirited, indeed!

Many on social media, however, were unhappy with the pony handler's rough attempts to rebuff Rich Strike. 

Thankfully, the situation was straightened out and the day's hero got the celebration he deserved, including receiving his rose garland. 

Now the big question is whether or not Rich Strike can do it again at the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore on May 21.