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Kentucky Derby Winner Rich Strike Will No Longer Run In Preakness Stakes, Owner Says

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Rich Strike, the improbable 80-1 winner of the Kentucky Derby, will not make a bid for the Triple Crown and skip the upcoming Preakness Stakes, owner Rick Dawson said.

In a statement released by the Maryland Jockey Club, Dawson said the horse will continue to rest and point to the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes.

"Obviously, with our tremendous effort & win in the Derby it's very, very tempting to alter our course & run in the Preakness at Pimlico, which would be a great honor for all our group, however, after much discussion & consideration with my trainer, Eric Reed & a few others, we are going to stay with our plan of what's best for Ritchie is what's best for our group, and pass on running in the Preakness, and point toward the Belmont in approximately 5 weeks," he said.

Rich Strike may run in a race other than the Belmont on June 11, Dawson said.

Three years ago, another improbable Derby winner, Country House, a 65-1 shot who was elevated to the winner's circle after the runner that crossed the finish line first, Maximum Security, was disqualified, also did not enter the Preakness. The horse never raced again and was retired in 2020 after being diagnosed with proximal suspensory ligament desmitis on both front fetlocks, the horse's owner said.

Country House became the first Derby winner to skip the Preakness since Grindstone in 1996. The 3-year-old colt was retired after a bone chip was discovered in his knee.

The record books will show the 2021 winner didn't run in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown either. Earlier this year, the horse that crossed the finish line first, Medina Spirit, was stripped of his victory after testing positive for a steroid, betamethasone, that is legal in Kentucky but banned on race day.

Second-place finisher Mandaloun was elevated to first. Mandaloun did not compete in either the Preakness or the Belmont, and went on to win the Pegasus Stakes and the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes, both at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.

Medina Spirit did run in the Preakness and came in third.

Reports this week indicated Rich Strike was on track for the Preakness.

"He's just had a couple days off, walking, grazing, getting bathed, just getting over the race, getting his mind right. He's seemed to come out of the race really good. We'll have him on the track in the morning," Reed told the Maryland Jockey Club on Monday. "If things go well this week in the next couple days, I'll go back to Churchill, gallop him a few days and maybe give him a little workout Monday or Tuesday to stretch his legs. Then, if all goes well, we'll head to Pimlico."

Runner-up Epicenter, the 4-1 betting favorite on Derby Day, has entered the Preakness. The 3-year-old son of Not This Time out of Silent Candy was leading by a head at the top of the stretch and dueling with another favorite, Zandon, before both horses were passed on the inside by Rich Strike.

Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath is also in the field, hoping to join the six fillies who beat the boys in the race, Whimsical, Rhine Maiden, Nellie Morse, Rachel Alexandra and Swiss Skydiver.

The Preakness is scheduled for Saturday, May 21.

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