The Historic Upset at Churchill Downs

Rich Strike, a late entrant to the Kentucky Derby with 80-1 odds to win, succeeds in one of the greatest upsets in the history of the “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports”


Photo courtesy Associated Press

Jayden Gonzalez

When people think of underdog stories and some of the biggest upsets in all of sports, many think of 1980’s “The Miracle on Ice” between the United States and the Soviet Union, Super Bowl XLII between the New York Giants and New England Patriots, and 16 seeded UMBC beating 1 seed Virginia in the 2018 March Madness Tournament. All of these upsets in their own right are among some of the biggest shocks in the history of sports. One of these miracles happened on May 7, 2022, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Truth be told, Rich Strike wasn’t even supposed to be competing in this year’s Kentucky Derby. The horse was 21st out of the 20 horses slated to qualify for the race, meaning that Strike needed 1 horse to drop out to even compete in the derby. The owner’s of Rich Strike did not expect the horse to qualify for the derby and the horse was planned to race sometime later in the week in New York. However, the day before the race, Rich Strike entered the starting gate at Churchill Downs after horse Ethereal Road dropped out of the competition. It was an unlikely scenario that Strike was even able to compete in the race but it would take another “hail mary” to win the race, with betting odds at 80-1, or winning $8000 for betting $100.

What makes Strike’s feat even more impressive is that through the majority of the race, the horse was nowhere near the top, coasting in the back until the final quarter of the track, about 440 yards away from the finish line. At that point, jockey Sonny Leon and Rich Strike started to bob and weave through the traffic of other horses and found his way into the far inside of the track with nothing but an open field to run. He turned on the jets while the rest of the horses were getting fatigued and slowed down, creating a golden opportunity for the underdog Strike. At the final furlong, 220 yards away from the end, Strike stormed all the way into 3rd place, only trailing horses Epicenter and Simplification. Rich Strike continued its magical run, passing the other two horses and claiming the 148th Kentucky Derby Victory. As announcer Larry Collmus called it: “The longest shot has won the Kentucky Derby.”

Rich Strike’s long-shot victory will go down in history as one of the greatest spectacles in all of sports, regardless of what happens to the horse in the rest of their career. Strike’s journey as a late addition to the race, being slated at 80-1 odds, and storming back from 18th place to win on one of the biggest events in all sports is as historic as it gets. Sadly, we will not be able to see Strike go for the triple crown as he reportedly is not racing in the Preakness Stakes, but his story will be remembered for a very long time.