After Rich Strike won the 2022 Kentucky Derby, owner Rick Dawson of RED TR-Racing opted not to enter the horse in the 2022 Preakness Stakes. For the 42nd time in 44 years, horse-racing fans won’t see a Triple Crown winner. But Rich Strike will run in the 2022 Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 11.
After Rich Strike’s Kentucky Derby upset in May, Dawson announced the horse would rest instead of racing in the Preakness just two weeks later.
“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, per the Associated Press. “However, after much discussion and consideration … we are going to stay with our plan of what’s best for Ritchie.”
Now, though, the team is focused on Belmont.
Rich Strike is “definitely enjoying himself” in the run-up to the Belmont Stakes.
Exercise rider Gabriel Lagunes took Rich Strike for a gallop around the 1.5-mile oval at Belmont Park in Elmore, N.Y., on Sunday, June 5.
“We backed him up a half a mile today, and tomorrow, we’ll probably let him have another two-mile gallop,” trainer Eric Reed said after Sunday’s exercise, per Horse Racing Nation. “He’s definitely enjoying himself and came back really perky. He’s appreciating everything.”
Lagunes spoke along similar lines on Thursday, June 2, after taking Rich Strike on the horse’s first lap around Belmont’s main track that day. “He’s happy. I think he likes this track,” the jockey said, per BloodHorse. “He was pretty fresh and was pulling a little, but he’s more relaxed here than at Churchill Downs. There [at Churchill], there are a lot of horses and a lot of traffic, and he gets a little stressed. But not here.”
Skipping the Preakness was “the right thing” for the horse, says trainer Eric Reed.
As the Associated Press reported last month, Rich Strike sitting out the Preakness fueled the debate around Triple Crown race scheduling, with some people pushing for longer gaps between the events.
Last month, Reed defended the team’s decision to pull Rich Strike from the that race. “No matter the outcome of the Belmont, [bypassing the Preakness] was the right thing for him,” Reed said at the time, per BloodHorse.
Reed elaborated, “Physically and energy-wise he’s ready, but if his mind isn’t right, he’s not going to perform. He’s so much more confident since the Derby in everything he does. These three and a half weeks have got him where he’s just starting to come back to earth, and that’s why he’s like a five-week horse. It just takes him that long mentally to do things the proper way.”
Live coverage of the 154th running of the Belmont Stakes starts at 3 p.m. EST on CNBC and at 5 p.m. EST on NBC, airing live from Belmont Park in Elmore, N.Y. NBC Sports will also cover the Belmont Stakes before, during, and after the race on its NBCSports.com website and NBC Sports app and on the Peacock streaming platform.