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.
“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,” Dawson said in a news release. “However, after much discussion and consideration … we are going to stay with our plan of what’s best for Ritchie.”
Reed did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
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. He could have been the first Derby winner not to go off as the Preakness post time favorite since 2012 when I’ll Have Another won the first two legs of the Triple Crown.
With Rich Strike’s surprise withdrawal, the Preakness will go on without the official Derby champion for the second time in four years. Country House and disqualified winner Maximum Security skipped the race in 2019. Mandaloun, who was elevated to the 2021 Derby win long after Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance not allowed on race day, also did not run in the Preakness.
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.
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 is also expected to enter Early Voting.