Rich Strike (Keen Ice), who sensationally upended last Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby as the 80-1 longest shot in the field of 20, will bypass the GI Preakness S. at Pimlico May 21, owner Rick Dawson said Thursday afternoon.
“Our original plan for Rich Strike was contingent on the Kentucky Derby–should we not run in the Derby, we would point toward the Preakness, should we run in the Derby, subject to the race outcome and the condition of our horse, we would give him more recovery time and rest and run in the Belmont or another race and stay on course to run with five or six weeks' rest between races,” Dawson said in a statement released by 1/ST.
“Obviously, with our tremendous effort and win in the Derby, it's very, very tempting to alter our course and run in the Preakness at Pimlico, which would be a great honor for all our group, however, after much discussion and consideration with my trainer Eric Reed and a few others, we are going to stay with our plan of 'what's best for Ritchie is what's best for our group,' and pass on running in the Preakness, and point toward the Belmont in approximately five weeks.
“We thank the wonderful Preakness and Pimlico folks that have reached out to us and very much appreciate the invite.”
The Derby winner's defection comes just one day after trainer D. Wayne Lukas confirmed that GI Longines Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath (Arrogate) would back up in the second leg of the Triple Crown. Epicenter (Not This Time), who finished 3/4 of a length behind Rich Strike in the Derby, is also moving on to Old Hilltop, while a decision on third-placed Zandon (Upstart) is pending. The latter's stablemate Early Voting (Gun Runner) is already a confirmed starter in the Preakness and Derby fourth Simplification (Not This Time) is already on the Pimlico backstretch.
Claimed for $30,000 out of a second-out maiden victory at Churchill last September, Rich Strike was beaten 14 lengths into fifth by Epicenter in the Dec. 26 Gun Runner S. at Fair Grounds and entered the Derby off a third behind Tiz the Bomb (Hit It a Bomb) in the GIII Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park Apr. 2.