By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) – Rich Strike’s stunning come-from-behind victory at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby left the chestnut colt famished and trainer Eric Reed sleepless after they pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the race’s 148-year history.
The 80-1 longshot only got into the race on Friday when Ethereal Road scratched and was forced to break from post 20 at Churchill Downs.
But Jockey Sonny Leon expertly navigated through the traffic and Rich Strike took advantage of an opening along the rail down the stretch to charge past Epicenter and Zandon.
“He looks great this morning,” Reed said on Sunday.
“He ate up everything last night and seems really good. He gains weight after every race and I don’t think we’ve gotten to the bottom of him.”
Reed said he collapsed after Rich Strike crossed the wire but that was about all of the rest the Kentucky native got on Saturday.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” Reed said.
“At 4 a.m. this morning I was wondering if this was real or if it was a dream. I got home and my kids and their friends were there with champagne. I finally told them at 2:30 a.m. I had to go up to bed.
“I just kept seeing him in my head come up the rail.”
The win was the second biggest upset in Derby history after Donerail won at 91-1 in 1913.
Reed had considered walking away from the sport after he lost 23 horses in a barn fire six years ago.
But after winning his first Run for the Roses, he is now eyeing the second leg of the Triple Crown with the Preakness Stakes on May 21 although he would not say for sure whether Rich Strike will compete given the short turnaround.
“That’s probably the plan … (but) I don’t like to run back quick,” he said.
“You get one like this in a lifetime and you have to protect him.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Daniel Wallis)