Two weeks after it was announced that Eric Reed had resigned as the trainer of Rich Strike (Keen Ice), the 2022 GI Kentucky Derby winner has found a new home. Owner Rick Dawson has chosen Hall of Famer Bill Mott to take over the training duties.
The story was first reported by Horse Racing Nation.
“I have followed Bill's career for a while and have always been impressed with how he prepares his horses,” Dawson said. “I wasn't on the inside, but it always seemed to me that he is very patient. In particular last year, I witnessed him preparing Olympiad through a number of races and eventually in the Breeders' Cup where he ran second to Flightline. I was very impressed with what he did with that horse. He would run third or fourth and then would bounce back and win. I saw that Bill was able to take a horse that last time out didn't run the way they wanted and then in next race he was in the winner's circle. That was huge for me. A friend of mine who I lean on in this business, Everett Dobson out of Oklahoma, he was a part owner of Olympiad, so he was familiar with Bill. He reached out to Bill on my behalf and Bill was kind and gracious. After a few conversations, he said he would look forward to the opportunity to train Rich Strike and see where things go.”
Mott will also train three other horses owned by Dawson. Dawson's five other horses have been sent to trainer Jerry O'Dwyer.
Reed and Dawson were at odds over a movie deal Reed worked out with Omaha Productions, which was founded by Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Dawson said that he was “kept out of the loop” over the movie deal and that his rights as the owner of the horses were never taken into consideration. Reed contended that there was no need to involve Dawson in the process because the planned movie is not about Rich Strike but Reed's relationship with his father, Herbert.
While Dawson was searching for a new trainer, Rich Strike and other horses Reed trained for Dawson were sent from Reed's training center to the Blackwood Training Center in Lexington.
Mott will have his work cut out for him when it comes to Rich Strike. The 4-year-old has lost six straight since his stunning win in the Derby at odds of 80-1. He made his 4-year-old debut in the GII Alysheba S. on May 5 at Churchill Downs and finished fifth, beaten 16 3/4 lengths.
“I hope this will be a shot in the arm for him,” Dawson said. “I'm a pretty loyal guy and I was loyal to Eric and wanted to give him every opportunity to continue. It just didn't work out. Now we've gone to Plan B. I feel like getting Bill to take over the training of a few of my horses, especially Rich Strike, is a blessing. We got the opportunity to get our horse into the barm of a Hall of Famer. That couldn't have worked out any better. Now we'll have a new set of eyes and a new environment. It's a new chapter in my life as a race horse owner, but it's exciting.”
Because Rich Strike was taken out of training briefly after leaving the Reed stable, he probably won't start again until some time this summer. Dawson said the major stakes at Saratoga would be a good place to resume his career.
“He's run two very mediocre races in a row,” he said. “That was totally unlike him. We are at the point in his career where if there are issues we need to figure out what they are, we need to address them and get him back as close to perfect as possible. In the next race, wherever it might be, we need to compete and not just run up the track.”
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