It’s back to work for 2022 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Rich Strike.
Trainer Eric Reed said RED TR-Racing’s son of Keen Ice arrived at his Mercury Training Center in Lexington Jan. 10 and was expected to begin light training the next day in preparation for a 4-year-old campaign that probably will include five starts.
“He looks great. I visited him a few times at the farm to keep my eye on him and he was doing remarkably well,” Reed said about the colt’s recent 40 days of freshening at Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa.
Reed said he is looking at an overseas trip to the $20 million Saudi Cup or the $12 million Dubai World Cup for the colt who blazed a path into racing lore with his shocking 80-1 victory in last year’s Kentucky Derby, though getting Rich Strike ready for the Feb. 25 Saudi Cup at 1 1/8 miles could be problematic since the flight carrying U.S. horses to Saudi Arabia leaves Feb. 14.
“The Saudi race is the big question mark because I don’t know how long it will take to get him in condition for the race,” Reed said. “Since I’ve had him, he has never gone five days without a saddle on his back. So, having 40 days off is the only unknown. How long will take to get him fit? That’s what we have to figure out.”
The March 25 Dubai World Cup at a more preferable 1 1/4-mile distance would come into focus if Rich Strike fails to make the Saudi Cup.
“It looks like the Saudi Cup or Dubai World Cup, and if not those then maybe a stakes at Oaklawn Park. Then the Stephen Foster and Saratoga [for the Grade 1 Whitney Stakes] followed by the Lukas Classic and if all goes well we’ll end the year at the Breeders’ Cup Classic. It will be a light campaign,” Reed said about his plans for the 2023 season. “We want to see if he matures at 4 and becomes as good as we believe he can be. He was showing signs of that late last year when he was second in the Lukas Classic [by a head] and fourth in the Classic.”
After the Classic, Rich Strike ran for the ninth and final time in 2022, going off as the second choice in the Clark Stakes Presented by Norton Healthcare at Churchill Downs. As it turned out, he finished last in the field of six and was diagnosed with a respiratory infection after the race.
“He was pretty worn out when he came out of the Clark with the respiratory infection,” Reed said. “We thought he would run well there. There was no sign that something was wrong until after the race. Had we known, we never would have run.”
When asked if this would be Rich Strike’s final year of racing, Reed said, “You never know, but there’s never been a discussion about anything beyond this year.”
Bred by Calumet Farm, Rich Strike has won 2 of his 13 starts and earned $2,508,989. His only other win besides the Kentucky Derby came in a Churchill Downs maiden race at 2 when he was claimed by Reed for $30,000.