I have been a huge fan of the Kentucky Derby from a very young age. I don’t know why. It was not any sort of tradition in our family. But I made it a tradition when I had a family of my own, and to this day we all pick our horses the morning of the race in a giant group text spanning both coasts.
This year, something unusual happened.
One of the twenty horses was scratched on Friday morning. Rich Strike, who had missed the cut, was given the opportunity to enter the race. Owner Rick Dawson managed to complete the paperwork only 30 seconds before the deadline. Then they had to find a jockey, so they snagged Sonny Leon, who had just ridden six races the previous day in Cincinnati. Long shot was an understatement. This horse had won just once previously, finishing out of the money three times.
So Rich Strike went off at 80-1, paying $163.60 on a $2 bet to win.
But this wasn’t just the biggest upset at the Kentucky Derby in over a century (Donerail 1913, 91-1). You have to watch how he did it. In this first video, watch how Leon is barely on the whip down the stretch; he’s basically just letting him run.
Even that stunning finish doesn’t tell the whole story. To really see the ground he chewed up, we need to back up and watch the last half mile. I haven’t seen anything like this since Secretariat’s epic run at Belmont in 1973. Here is the aerial view starting at the far turn, where he sits in 17th as this video starts. I’ve watched it ten times. Enjoy!