Rich Strike is the unlikely hero the racing world has been waiting for

Rich Strike is the unlikely hero the racing world has been waiting for

Rick Dawson’s recitation of the American racing dream, which has played out in real time on the national stage since they plucked Rich Strike from a $30,000 maiden claiming race nine months ago, was like a recitation of the American racing dream, which has played out in real time on the national stage in the last month.

We had just claimed him and ran him a $90,000 allowance at Keeneland, and he came from last to third and then passed those two horses within 50 yards of the finish line going a mile,” explained Dawson, a semi-retired oil/gas businessman from Oklahoma. “(Trainer) Eric (Reed) is kind of seeing things I don’t, but then a few weeks after that he said, ‘you know, I think we’ve got something here. I think this guy can run, and I’m not real sure where but I think we have a stakes horse anyway.’ I said ‘Derby?’ and he said ‘I hate to say that but I don’t know. Maybe.’

There’s no pretence in the aftermath of a historic upset, and a lot of humility in the midst of the media frenzy. Just a small group of people who aren’t part of the sport’s elite taking advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It’s the story that racing sorely requires right now. As the ultimate longshot returns to the track in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, five weeks after a shocking upset in the Kentucky Derby, a story that transcends the sport for all the right reasons.

So we just went to the first Saturday in May on the calendar and we backed up from there, and we picked our races as best we could with four or five weeks in between and we kind of stuck to our plan.”

The result was a rags-to-riches tale for the ages. A last-minute entrant on Friday morning, and a stirring stretch run early Saturday evening that resulted in a nearly $2 million payday.

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