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Road to Royalty: A look inside the work raising a Breeders' Cup participant

rich strike
Posted at 5:11 PM, Oct 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-31 17:15:45-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The road from Mercury Equine Center to the Breeders' Cup has had multiple stops for Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike.

He fought through adversity to reach the front on Derby Day, but that's symbolic of where he comes from.

"We do the impossible every day," said Lindsy Reed, who helps run the day-to-day at Mercury Equine Center.

Reed is also trainer Eric Reed's daughter. She helps make the impossible, possible. The work can be taxing, but that was even before one young man stole the show.

"Yeah, the workload has doubled," Reed said. "There's so much more that goes into it when you have one that's that special."

"He's special, he's special," said Ruben Camacho, who also works at Mercury Equine Center.

"He is Mr. Popularity," Reed says of Rich Strike. "He comes in and everybody wants to pet him, wants to see him, and the other horses are all his buddies. They're glad to see him back. He loves to come home."

No easy task for the 18 employees who help care for Rich Strike, along with the nearly 90 other horses on the farm. There's plenty of washing, feeding, training, and the days begin as early as 4:30 a.m.

"They work more than 12-hour shifts," Reed said. "And they don't complain. They work seven days a week. They don't complain. They love what they do, they love this farm, everything they do is for this farm and the horses."

"Taking care of him, it's just being responsible, same thing as the other horses, we have a lot of horses we have to take care of at the same time," Camacho said.

It's all hands on deck to prepare for the first Saturday in December.

"We're doing something right to see him blossom like he has," Reed said.

There's also a goal to help Rich Strike's barn mates follow in his footsteps.

"Don't ever doubt them because you never know this little bay horse in the corner stall could be your next Derby winner, Breeders' Cup runner," Reed said.

At Mercury Equine, resiliency and adversity are no stranger to the family.

"Watching that barn burn down there that's not something easy," Reed said. "Knowing there's nothing you can do. You can't go in there and get them out."

There was a barn fire at Mercury Equine Center in 2016. Tasked with a battle, the family knows no defeat — only prompted to run for the roses.

"It's something that comes from up there saying, 'hey I gave you a battle and you won,'" Reed said. "Never stop dreaming. Never stop believing. Keep the faith no matter how hard it gets. No matter if you get on top of the mountain and you fall down. You keep climbing. Because I'm telling you, the view is unbelievable up there."