SportsRace to the Derby


'Gotta respect them': NBC Sports' Kenny Rice on Rich Strike skipping Preakness

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Posted at 6:53 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 23:16:02-04

LEXINGTON, Ky (LEX18) — Less than a week after he shocked the world, Rich Strike provided horse racing fans with another unexpected headline: The Kentucky Derby champion will not run in the Preakness.

The decision to skip the Preakness, held on May 21, means there will not be a Triple Crown winner for a fourth consecutive year.

"I'm surprised in the sense that usually most people try it," said Kenny Rice, a veteran horse racing reporter with NBC Sports.

Rice told LEX 18 that this would be only the third time since 1996 that a Derby winner's team opted out of running in the Preakness.

"Most people feel almost an obligation," Rice said. "It's not a rule, but they feel an obligation to go on and try it."

In a statement, the owner of Rich Strike said the original plan for Rich Strike was "contingent on the Kentucky Derby" and that his team would likely give him more "recovery time & rest" depending on the outcome and his condition.

While adding that it was "very, very tempting to alter our course," Dawson said Rich Strike would now focus on the Belmont in approximately five weeks.

"We are going to stay with our plan of what's best for Ritchie is what's best for our group," Dawson explained.

While the decision is sure to be disappointing to race fans, Rice said he respects it.

"It's them taking care of their horse," Rice said. "They're not obligated to the fans or any of us."

Rice noted that a two-week turnaround between the Derby and the Preakness is daunting for some teams.

"It is a tough turn," Rice said. "But then the Triple Crown is supposed to be hard to win, or else nobody would get excited about it."

An assistant for head trainer Eric Reed signaled to LEX 18 Wednesday that they wanted to proceed with caution.

"You're hurting the horse by running him back where he's normally used to four to five weeks off," Peter Evsich told LEX 18's Austin Pollack Wednesday. "It's really tough when you run him back [after] two weeks. That's hard on the horse."

Rice said while the Preakness often serves as a litmus test of sorts for the Derby winner, he is looking forward to seeing Rich Strike compete at Belmont.

"We could have a Derby winner and a Preakness winner going head-to-head in the Belmont," Rice said. "That's the next best thing if you can't have a Triple Crown on the line."