Rich Strike’s team considers Preakness options after the turn – WDVM25 and DCW50

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Rich Strike’s impressive comeback in the Kentucky Derby had the sports world vibrating and led to a sleepless night of celebration that Eric Reed was still recovering from Sunday morning.

The veteran coach and everyone around him cheered wildly after the 80-1 shot achieved a monumental feat on Saturday. Once their heads clear, the next step will be to decide whether Rich Strike’s storybook journey continues at the 147th Preakness on May 21 in Baltimore.

“As long as he’s okay and after a week I know it’s the right thing to do, we’ll do it,” Reed said Sunday morning at Churchill Downs. “I have to do what I did from day one with this horse, and that is manage it and take care of it.”

Similar decisions await some of the favorites Rich Strike chased late with Sonny Leon on board en route to clocking 2:02.61 in the 1 1/4 mile Derby.

While seeking redemption is understandable for runners-up Epicenter – the 4-1 favorite who was just 400 meters away from giving Hall of Fame coach Steve Asmussen his long-awaited first Derby win – the two-week turnaround for 1 3/16 mile on Pimlico Race Course is a concern.

Asmussen wants to give Epicenter owner Ron Winchell time to find out. His focus is on the long-term future for the horse, whose margin behind Rich Strike and ahead of third-placed Zandon was just three-quarters of a length each.

“That’s where I think our responsibility is now, how can we make him a 3-year champion?” said the coach. “He is a very talented horse, has very good ability and has just finished second in Derby. We need to plot a schedule that we think can make him the 3-year champion.”

Coach Chad Brown was pleased with Zandon’s race but regretted not being able to win it. Todd Pletcher said his Derby trio, Mo Donegal, Charge It and Pioneer of Medina, were “doing well” but likely returned to New York after finishing out of contention.

Tim Yakteen, who took Messier and Taiba 5-1 as second pick to suspended Bob Baffert, said Preakness is in consideration for Taiba.

One coach with options is D. Wayne Lukas, whose scrape of Ethereal Road on Friday ironically set in motion the series of events that culminated in Rich Strike’s last-minute entry and final victory.

The 86-year-old Hall of Famer won her fifth Kentucky Oaks on Friday with the filly Secret Oath and suggested taking her to Maryland for the Preakness or Black Eyed Susan Stakes for fillies on May 20. the Arkansas Derby, finishing just three-quarters behind runners-up Barber Road and winner Cyberknife. Ethereal Road could also be in play after a good workout on Sunday.

“Owners are very aware of Grades and Scholarships, so they will have an opinion and I will respect it,” Lukas said of Secret Oath’s prospects. “I think I will have the final vote, though.”

Not far in the back, Reed and his new Derby champion were packing for Lexington, Kentucky, to prepare for whatever comes next on and off the track.

Fans crowded around Barn 17 to see the most unlikely Derby winners, who seemed to handle the attention well as the cameras clicked. Reed said the foal’s appetite was strong, a good sign of health after its longest journey yet.

An immediate challenge for Reed was responding to hundreds of congratulatory texts after his small operation clinched the horse racing’s flagship event – a dizzying achievement that became more gratifying in a short time.

“Just getting into Derby for me was like a win,” said Reed, who fell into the paddock and missed Rich Strike’s submission. “I can’t put into words what it’s like, but I was so happy for my wife (Kay) and my team. And having my dad by my side was the best part for me.”

Now the sport awaits what Rich Strike’s team believes is best for him.


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