By Rory Carroll (Reuters) – Surprise Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike will not compete in next week’s Preakness Stakes due to the quick turnaround, the colt’s owner said on Thursday, meaning there will be no Triple Crown champion this year. Rich Strike won last weekend’s “Run for the Roses” at the second-longest odds in the […]
Horse racing-Derby winner Rich Strike to skip Preakness Stakes
By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) – Surprise Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike will not compete in next week’s Preakness Stakes due to the quick turnaround, the colt’s owner said on Thursday, meaning there will be no Triple Crown champion this year.
Rich Strike won last weekend’s “Run for the Roses” at the second-longest odds in the race’s 148-year history despite starting from the dreaded No. 20 post and being entered into it only the day before.
“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,” owner Rick Dawson said in a statement.
“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.”
The Preakness is set for May 21 in Baltimore.
A horse must win the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont in the same year to capture the Triple Crown.
Horse racing has come under intense scrutiny in recent years due to the high number of horse deaths and well-known trainers including six-time Derby winner Bob Baffert being hit with sanctions for doping violations.
Concern for the wellbeing of the horses and jockeys led to the passage of the Horseracing Integrity Act, which seeks to create a national standard for drug testing. The federal law takes effect on July 1.
Animal rights activists applauded Dawson’s decision to put the horse’s welfare first.
“Their decision to ‘give him more recovery time and rest’ is refreshing to see, and we have no doubt that Rich Strike will go down in the history books as one of the most famous American racehorses of all time,” said Marty Irby, executive director of Animal Wellness Action.
Irby added that he was pleased to see that Rich Strike’s post-race blood test came back clear of any illegal drugs.
That was not the case at last year’s Derby. The Baffert-trained Medina Spirit crossed the line first before a post-race test revealed a drug in his system that is not allowed to be there on race day.
That led to a suspension that kept Baffert away from this year’s Kentucky Derby. Baffert has denied any wrongdoing and is suing Churchill Downs.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Will Dunham)