Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike will not run in the Preakness.
Owner Rich Dawson made the stunning announcement Thursday, 10 days before the race in Maryland. It means there will not be a Triple Crown winner for a fourth consecutive year.
Dawson said he and trainer Eric Reed agreed to stick with the initial plan for Rich Strike and rest him for five weeks. Rich Strike, at 80-1, was the biggest long shot to win the Derby in more than a century. Only Donerail in 1913 paid more to win.
The plan now is to have Rich Strike ready to run in the Belmont Stakes on June 11. Dawson said it was best for the colt to get extra rest and not run back in two weeks at Pimlico.
Rich Strike was not expected to be the morning line favorite for the Preakness, with Derby runner-up Epicenter and Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath set to be part of the field.
With Rich Strike’s surprise withdrawal, the Derby champion has not run in the Preakness in 2019 or 2021. The races were run out of order in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Bob Baffert-trained Medina Spirit finished third in the 2021 Preakness after testing positive for a substance not allowed on race day in post-Derby testing. Mandaloun, who was elevated to the 2021 Derby win long after Medina Spirit tested positive, did not run in the Preakness last year.
Rich Strike’s incredible charge past the leaders down the stretch at Churchill Downs after not being in the Derby field became one of the biggest upsets in sports. The owners, Reed and jockey Sonny Leon had all never won the race.
Adding to the impressive tale, Rich Strike had only one once before and had been claimed for $30,000 — pennies in racing and unlikely for Derby-caliber horses.
Neither Reed nor the Maryland Jockey Club immediately responded to a messages seeking comment.
With Rich Strike pointing to the Belmont, the Preakness appears to be a wide-open race with horses back from the Derby, potentially including Zandon and fourth-place finisher Simplification. Trainer Chad Brown, who saddles Zandon, is also expected to enter Early Voting.
Horse racing has had two recent Triple Crown winners: American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018. Each was trained by Baffert, who is currently serving a suspension in Kentucky for medication violations that is being observed in Maryland and elsewhere. Baffert transferred Derby horses Taiba and Messier to former assistant Tim Yakteen.
Neither is expected to run in the Preakness.
Longtime Baffert friend D. Wayne Lukas confirmed Wednesday filly Secret Oath would run in the Preakness and decided to pick a different race next Saturday for Ethereal Road — the horse who was scratched to make room in the Derby for Rich Strike.