LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – Eric Reed, with slightly disheveled hair, came out of an SUV on Sunday morning to check on a horse that changed his life the night before.
“I haven’t slept yet,” he said.
Not surprisingly, his nerves did not settle quickly after he watched his long-range 80-1 strike, Rich Strike, knock down a pack of more famous horses to win the 148th Kentucky Derby.
The new champion looked no worse in demolition as cameramen gathered to capture his morning bath near Barn 17. Reed said Rich Strike ate his entire lunch Saturday night and moved well. Viewers saw him gnaw his pony after the Derby, believing that the effort did not exhaust him from the fight.
“I think he thought he had another horse to beat,” Reed joked. “I don’t think we got to the bottom of it yesterday.”
Does this mean that Rich Strike will be ready for release on May 21 at Preakness Stakes? Reed said he and owner Rick Dawson wanted it, but they won’t until they watch Rich Strike for a few days in his home barn in Lexington.
Preakness officials called Sunday morning to pass an official invitation. “Such a plan,” Reed said into his cell phone. When he leaves, Rich Strike will leave Kentucky in time to spend a few mornings on the track at the unfamiliar Pimlik racetrack.
Reed has never been to Baltimore, but said “The Wire” is one of his favorite TV shows. He owns a sweatshirt “Omar’s Coming”.
The 57-year-old coach, anonymous for the wide world of racing until Saturday night, is a natural character. The little finger on his right hand was painted with gold nail polish, a ritual he began 12 years ago with his daughter Martha, who believed he needed extra encouragement when he took the talented mare Rinterval to challenge the great Zenit.
“You guys want a better photo?” Said Reed on Sunday morning. He then took off his right shoe to reveal that all his toenails were also painted in gold.
Elsewhere in Churchill Downs, coach Steve Asmussen did not rule out that he will take Epicenter, who finished second in the Derby, to Baltimore for a rematch of Preakness.
“He came out of the race well, so we’ll just try to move forward,” Asmussen said. “I didn’t talk [owner] Ron [Winchell]but I’ll talk to him later, and we’ll figure out what to do next. “
In 2007, one of Asmussen’s greatest horses, Kerlin, finished third in the Derby and returned to win Preakness. Two years later he rode Rachel Alexandra for her victory in Preakness.
Other contenders have already begun lining up to make a shot at Rich Strike.
Early voting qualified for the Derby after taking an impressive second place at the Wood Memorial on April 9, but his coach Chad Brown and his owner, Baltimore-born Seth Clarman, decided to postpone Preakness. Five years earlier, they had chosen the same approach with cloud computing, and their patience paid off by winning the second Triple Crown match.
“The horse is doing great,” Brown said of the early vote. “He only has three career starts. In some of his starts he was not even close to adversity [morning-line Derby favorite] Zandon had. Still have a little question with that horse a mile from a quarter, so I thought about going a mile and 3/16 [in the Preakness], rest six weeks instead of four, run in a field with 14 horses instead of 20, probably more fair for a future horse. And I have an extremely patient owner with Seth Clarman … so it was a pretty easy decision to do the right thing with the horse. “
The decision announced that early voting would be a popular choice in Preakness, where it would try to take advantage of tired Derby horses, as cloud computing did in 2017.
Brown said he finished third in the derby, Zandon will return to New York on Monday, but left open the opportunity to join early voting in the Preakness area.
Meanwhile, six-time Preakness winner D. Wayne Lucas said he could take part in his winner in Kentucky Oaks, Secret Oath, in the crucial phase of the Triple Crown. On the eve she is also a candidate for black-eyed Susan Stakes.
“We are interested to see her come out of this difficult race and jump here this morning,” said 86-year-old Lucas the day after the Oaks. “Preakness is an option, but so is Black-Eyed Susan. The big difference is a million dollars and 1st grade. It would be nice to get her a second grade 1 [win]».
Swiss Skydiver won Preakness after finishing second at Oaks in 2020. Rachel Alexandra won the Oaks in 2009 and defeated Mine That Bird, which beat Derby 50-1 in Pimlik. A similar scenario could be appealing to Lucas, who likes to push his horses into the biggest races.
Raised in Maryland, Joe was able to bring local flavor to Preakness after his victory at Federico Thezio Stakes on April 16 at Laurel Park. Owner Stuart Grant said he and coach Mike Trombet will appreciate the competition coming out of Derby before joining Joe, a four-time winner in six career starts.
“I guess we’ll see how the derby goes [and] we’ll see how our horse continues to progress, ”Grant said last week. “This is a good position. I’m very happy with how Joe did it. “
Coach Kenny McPeck said the Creative Minister, an impressive Derby undercard winner, is an opportunity for Preakness. He will watch as he finished in the derby that finished eighth, Smile Happy, recovering before deciding what awaits him next.
Until Rich Strike unexpectedly arrived at the Derby field on Friday morning, Reed thought he would spend Saturday at the lake fishing with his father. He is not used to being the target of a race on national television with a crowd of more than 100,000 people focused on his every move. But he did not seem intimidated by such a prospect.
He thought his life in racing might be more than six years ago when a fire destroyed his barn and killed 23 horses. So it’s all the best sauce.
“I’m so happy to be here on a bright sunny day,” he said. “And everyone is happy.”
147th Preakness Betting
Pimlico race track
TV: Chs. 11, 4 (lighting starts at 14.00)