Rich Strike Heads to Belmont

Rich Strike was a notable absentee in the Preakness Stakes held at the weekend. The Kentucky Derby winner will be back on a racetrack in June for the Belmont Stakes. The Dream of winning the Triple Crown is over, but can Rich Strike also win the final leg?

Why was the chance to win the second leg not taken? Well, it seems that there was never a chance of the Kentucky Derby winner going to Pimlico on May 21.

Rich Strike, front right, with Sonny Leon aboard, wins the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Trainer Eric Reed says that Rich Strike was “too sharp” to take part in the Preakness Stakes. Reed added that the runner needs more time between races to “settle down and do things in a relaxed manner.” Cutting down his level of aggressiveness is the target, but Rich Strike will be attempting to win the Belmont Stakes.

That view is illustrated by a look at the career record of the Kentucky Derby winner. There has tended to be a month between runs and the Preakness Stakes was only a fortnight after the Kentucky Derby.

Rich Strike is currently +700 to win the Belmont Stakes. That’s considerably lower than the +8000 at which the runner won the Kentucky Derby. Rich Strike finished strongly in that race and seeing out the mile and a half at Belmont looks to be very much on the cards.

Winning the Triple Crown is not something that is easy to achieve. It’s not just the difference in the distances that are travelled but the schedule of the races. Just two weeks between the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes and then there’s just three weeks to the Belmont Stakes. Is it realistic to see a horse win three highly competitive races in the space of just five weeks?

It’s not just Rich Strike that needs a good break between races. Early Voting won the Preakness Stakes finishing ahead of Kentucky Derby runner-up Epicenter. Both horses now appear to be being aimed at a summer campaign rather than heading to Belmont.

Mo Donegal is strongly fancied for the Belmont Stakes and is top of the horse racing betting market at +250. Just like Rich Strike, Mo Donegal ran in the Kentucky Derby but didn’t try his luck in the Preakness Stakes.

Rich Strike (21), with Sonny Leon aboard, wins the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 7, 2022, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

He’d have just over three lengths to find on Rich Strike after finishing fifth behind him in the Kentucky Derby. He would have got closer to the winner but for being bumped with a furlong and a half to go. A strong finish was made to try and make up the ground but to no avail.

That does seem to indicate that the mile and a half of the Belmont Stakes could bring further improvement for Mo Donegal and justify his strong position in the betting market.

We the People is available at +400 and looks to be on his way to Belmont. This G is trained by Rodolphe Brisset and has won two of his three races. Last time out, We the People won at Belmont Park in great style.

That was on May 14 in the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes with We the People finishing ten and a quarter lengths clear of the second. That was a good comeback after only finishing seventh in the Arkansas Derby in April. Has he improved enough to do well in Grade 1? We’ll have to wait until June to find that out.