SportsRace to the Derby


Beating the odds: Rich Strike and trainer Eric Reed defy doubters

Kentucky Derby Horse Racing
Posted at 6:58 AM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 07:12:45-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Five and a half years ago, trainer Eric Reed spoke to LEX 18 on the grounds of his training facility, Mercury Equine Center, as ashes smoldered behind him.

"At one time I told a couple of my foremen this could be career ending for us," Reed said then. "Because I don't know if we'll be able to recover."

Reed was still trying to process a barn fire that killed 23 thoroughbred horses at his facility.

This weekend, Reed proved his career could not only recover, but thrive.

"Deep stretch I said, 'Oh my gosh,' and I fell down," Reed said Sunday, a day after his horse, Rich Strike, won the 148th Kentucky Derby. "I didn't see him hit the finish line."

Hundreds of thousands of people at Churchill Downs and millions more watching from home certainly remember the exact moment Rich Strike crossed the finish line.

"It gives you goosebumps to know that he came from here," said Darrell Hayes, the stallion manager at Calumet Farm in Lexington.

LEX 18 paid a visit to Rich Strike's roots Sunday. Rich Strike was foaled at Calumet Farm, where his sire, Keen Ice, still lives.

"I love Keen Ice," Hayes said. "Keen Ice is one of the horses that I truly think is going to continue Calumet's legacy."

Like Rich Strike, Keen Ice has also left racing fans stunned. In 2015, as a 16-1 longshot, he beat Triple Crown Champion American Pharoah in the Travers Stakes.

"He's a fan favorite here," Hayes said of Keen Ice, who is retired from racing but still breeding. "He's a joker. He's a bit of a goofball when he's out in the field."

Up until Saturday, Calumet Farm had not produced a Kentucky Derby winner in 31 years, Hayes said.

Reed claimed Rich Strike for Rick Dawson's RED TR-Racing after a $30,000 maiden claiming race in 2021.