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Unlikeliest Kentucky Derby Winner Wins It All

Unlikeliest Kentucky Derby Winner Wins It All article feature image
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Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Rich Strike wins the Kentucky Derby.

The most exciting two minutes in sports got a whole lot more exciting Saturday when 80/1 longshot Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby.

How unlikely was the win?

Well, in order to even get into the race, Rich Strike’s owners had to have two horses scratch. That’s exactly what happened and Rich Strike was in the field just 31 hours before the race.

The news was music to the ears of 57-year-old trainer Eric Reed, whose greatest year of being in the business since 1985 was 2010, when his horses won a combined $1.81 million. Rich Strike won $1.86 million on Saturday.

Jockey Sonny Leon gets a 10% cut — $186,000 — for his win. In his eight years of racing, the average earnings he’s made for a horse in a race is $2,561. For what it’s worth, Leon has to give 25% to his agent ($46,500) and 5% to his valet ($9,300), which leaves him with a net of $130,200 before taxes.

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Rich Strike began the day at 99/1 and came down to 92/1 by 4:30pm ET. If that held, he would have been the longest longshot to win the Derby, beating Donerail, who won it all at 91/1 in 1913. Donerail, who had only won four of his 21 races before entering the Derby, only had to beat seven other horses.

The 80-1 odds drew some outrageous wins by the betting public. The $2 exacta paid $4,101.20 and a $1 superfecta (21-3-10-13) paid $321,500.10.

The horse wasn’t 80/1 everywhere. In Australia, where there are fixed odds, bettors could have gotten the horse for 250/1 to 300/1. At the Circa in Vegas, the horse closed at 200/1. No one bet it there, but bookmaker Matt Metcalf told The Action Network that enough action came in at 125/1 that their Kentucky Derby pool turned out to be a net loser.

One bettor in Vegas is lucky not to be a net loser. He decided to exacta box every horse in the field for guaranteed money. It cost $750. He made $2,500, but had Rich Strike not won he likely would have been a loser.

It’s an absurd win for horse owner Rick Dawson, who bought the horse 232 days ago for $30,000 after he won by more than 17 lengths in a race at Churchill Downs. Only one horse in the field was bought for cheaper — Barber Road, who came in sixth, was purchased in 2019 for $15,000.

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