Rich Strike’s owner, trainer talk Kentucky Derby and what’s next

Owner Rick Dawson, trainer Eric Reed, and friend Ken Tyson say they're just enjoying the moment

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – There’s no debate: Rich Strike made history when he won the 148th Kentucky Derby.

“I thought, he’s got him. He sees it. And that may be slightly after the finish line, but he was gonna pass Epicenter. Fortunately, he passed Epicenter before he got to the finish line. And we’re pulling the way,” said Owner Rick Dawson.

Rich Strike’s triumph is the classic “underdog” story, hailing from Mercury Equine Center. He’s the center’s first Derby win.

Owner Rick Dawson, trainer Eric Reed, and Reed’s close friend, Ken Tyson are still processing their horse’s victory.

“You can’t describe that feeling. If they could bottle it up and sell it as a drug, that would be great,” said trainer Eric Reed.

The three, who refer to their Derby winner as “Richie,” say they first saw the winner’s Derby potential back in the fall at Keeneland.

“Outside of a few hiccups and detours along the way we did great, and the next thing was just that he just got better and better. And the longer the race, the better he seemed to like it so we thought the Kentucky Derby might be in his wheelhouse and it was,” said Dawson.

However, it’s been a long road to the Kentucky Derby, with many setbacks as well as personal losses for Eric Reed. He says he almost quit the job he loves after a fire burned down an entire barn in 2016.

“You get knocked to your knees like that and it almost made me think that something was telling me to get out. I thought about it real hard for a couple of days,” said Reed.

Now, the trio is enjoying seeing their hard work and passion for racing paying off, saying Richie’s story is the perfect one for the times.

“Especially coming out of COVID, and how depressed everyone’s been, I mean they ran a Derby without spectators for goodness sakes. Saturday was the big, big day for a lot of reasons. People were back out there enjoying the greatest sport in the world, the sport of kings. And my gosh, for all the controversy over the past few years with the Derby, and COVID, it would be a great movie,” said Reed.

As for the possibility of Richie at the Preakness stakes:

“We’ll watch him on the track and we’ve got some powwow to do in the middle of the week but we’ll let you know as soon as we can,” said Reed.

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