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Rich Strike, Kentucky Derby Winner, Will Skip Preakness

After stunning the horse racing world with a Kentucky Derby win no one saw coming, Rich Strike will sit out the Preakness Stakes and instead focus on preparing for the Belmont Stakes.

The Daily Racing Form originally reported the news of Rich Strike’s absence at the Preakness.

The Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown, will be run on May 21 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The Belmont will be held at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, on June 11.

In a statement, owner Rick Dawson said that the team’s plan was always to determine Rich Strike’s Triple Crown schedule based on the outcome of the Kentucky Derby. If the horse was able to run in the Derby, they expected to “give him more recovery time” and rest for the Belmont. Despite the unexpected victory at Churchill Downs, that plan will remain unchanged.

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“With our tremendous effort and win in the Derby, it’s very, very tempting to alter our course and run in the Preakness at Pimlico, which would be a great honor for all our group,” the statement read. “However, after much discussion and consideration with my trainer, Eric Reed, and a few others, we are going to stay with our plan of what’s best for Ritchie and what’s best for our group, and pass on running in the Preakness, and point toward the Belmont in approximately five weeks.”

While the typical buzz about a Triple Crown chase usually follows the Kentucky Derby winner, that was not the case in Rich Strike’s camp following his monumental upset. Trainer Eric Reed stressed that the well-being of the horse would be the team’s top priority in determining whether or not Rich Strike would be entered at the Preakness.

“I can’t do anything but what’s best for the horse,” Reed told Sports Illustrated this week. “If we flop [at the Preakness] and he gets hurt, they’ll forget we were even there. I’ve got to remember it’s about him. If it starts being about us, that’s a problem.”

Under Reed’s care, Rich Strike has never run on less than three weeks’ rest, with most of his races spaced out across four or five weeks. The setup of the Triple Crown—with three races in the span of 35 days—proved to be too much to ask for the unlikely Derby champion.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.