The 148th running of the Kentucky Derby is in the books at Churchill Downs and the winner took everyone by surprise.
Longshot Rich Strike crossed the finish line first in the Run for the Roses on Saturday, overtaking 4-1 favorite Epicenter and Zandon in the final stretch for a stunning 80-1 upset. Trainer Eric Reed said jockey Sonny Leon gave the “greatest ride that I’ve ever seen.”
“Today shows you that anything is possible in horse racing and anything is possible in Kentucky,” said Kentucky governor Andy Beshear from the winner’s circle.
There were a total of 14 races that began Saturday morning leading up to the Run for the Roses.
Here’s all USA TODAY Sports updates from the track, including sights and sounds from the scene and race results.
BIGGEST STORYLINES: Five things to watch at 148th Kentucky Derby
WRONG (PROBABLY): Why your Derby horse can (and can’t) win
Rich Strike bettors win big after upset
Rich Strike pulled off a stunning upset that paid off big for those savvy enough to place a bet. Here are the highest payoffs for winners of the Kentucky Derby since $2 mutuel bets began in 1911 with winner, year and price:
Donerail, 1913, $184.90
Rich Strike, 2022, $163.60
Country House, 2019, $132.40
Mine That Bird, 2009, $103.20
Giacomo, 2005, $102.60
Gallahadian, 1940, $72.40
Charismatic, 1999, $64.60
Proud Clarion, 1967, $62.20
Exterminator, 1918, $61.20
Dark Star, 1953, $51.80
Thunder Gulch, 1995, $51.00
Rich Strike wins 148th Kentucky Derby in huge upset
Longshot Rich Strike won the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby on a cool and cloudy Saturday at Churchill Downs.
The victory is one of the most stunning in the history of the Kentucky Derby as little was expected of a horse that went off at 80-1. According to NBC, Rich Strike is the second-biggest long shot to ever win the Kentucky Derby.
Only Donerail in 1913 won the Kentucky Derby with longer odds at 91-1.
Rich Strike paid $163.60, $74.20 and $29.40 as the winner on a fast track by 3/4 lengths over Epicenter, who returned $7.40 and $5.20 for second. Zandon paid $5.60 for show.
Rich Strike surged in the final stretch to edge Epicenter, who was the favorite by post time, and Zandon to win the famed Run for the Roses. Simplification finished fourth and Mo Donegal crossed fifth.
Rich Strike wasn’t even in the Derby field until Friday when Ethereal Road was scratched, making room for the colt trained by Eric Reed. Both Jockey Sonny Leon and Reed were in their first Derby.
Jack Harlow gets a lift, literally
The Grammy-nominated “First Class” rapper got, well, first class treatment at the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. A video posted on the Kentucky Derby’s official Twitter account shows two men give Harlow a literal lift over the track to keep his ivory suit clean for his TV close up. The Louisville, Kentucky native gave the “Riders Up” call.
Epicenter, Taiba betting favorites to win Derby
With 30 minutes to go before the Run for the Roses, Epicenter and Taiba were the co-favorites to win the 148th Kentucky Derby. Here’s a look at the odds from kentuckyderby.com:
Epicenter 5-1; Taiba 5-1; Messier 6-1; Zandon 6-1; Mo Donegal 9-1; Cyberknife 13-1; White Abarrio 14-1; Charge It 15-1; Smile Happy 15-1; Crown Pride 17-1; Happy Jack 20-1; Tiz The Bomb 27-1; Summer Is Tomorrow 32-1; Simplification 35-1; Zozos 42-1; Pioneer of Medina 52-1; Barber Road 53-1; Tawny Port 75-1; Classic Causeway 76-1; Rich Strike 84-1.
Santin wins close duel in Grade 1 Turf Classic
Santin, a lightly-raced 4-year old, got the better of an exciting stretch duel with Mira Mission in the Grade 1 Turf Classic and won by a neck in one of the key grass races of the year.
Owned by the Emirates-based Godolphin operation and trained by Brendan Walsh, Santin put together a career-best performance in just his sixth start to give Walsh the third Grade 1 stakes win of his career.
Santin just missed out on a Grade 1 in last fall’s Hollywood Derby, losing by a neck. After two solid performances but no victories at Fair Grounds this year, he was sent off at 7-to-1 odds here. Santin sat just off the slow pace of Tribhuvan but hooked up on the front end with Mira Mission at the head of the stretch. That pair pulled away from the rest of the field, with Santin surging ahead by a neck at the wire.
Now, after a long day of racing, we have finally arrived at the Derby — though it’s still more than an hour to post time.
Eclipse Award winner Jackie’s Warrior wins Churchill Downs Stakes
Jackie’s Warrior was the best in a field of accomplished older sprinters in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Stakes, winning at even money for trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Joel Rosario.
Jackie’s Warrior earned the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter of 2021 after winning three significant races last summer but fizzled to sixth in the Breeders’ Cup, which was won by Aloha West. Jackie’s Warrior started his 2022 campaign at Oaklawn Park with a win in the Count Fleet Sprint and carried that form to Kentucky, where he had little trouble putting away this field after being allowed to set a surprisingly slow pace on the front end.
Reinvestment Risk from the Chad Brown barn finished second, while Aloha West finished third.
Asmussen, the all-time leading trainer in North America, is looking for his first Derby win later with the current favorite Epicenter.
Stolen Base steals American Turf in mild upset
Stolen Base, a well-bred 3-year old colt who cost $335,000 as a yearling, won the Grade 2 American Turf in a mild upset under jockey Flavien Prat, holding off Balnikhov and race favorite Sy Dog in third.
It was Stolen Base’s second win in nine career starts, and some smart handicapping by the public, which bet him down to 5-to-1 despite starting at 12-to-1 on the morning line. Stolen Base was coming off two races on the synthetic polytrack at Turfy Park, where he lost two races to Kentucky Derby entrant Tiz the Bomb.
Before that, he had been in the mix in four straight races on the grass but hadn’t closed the deal. This time, though, Stolen Base finally got home for trainer Mike Maker.
Obligatory returns to form, wins Derby City Distaff
Obligatory, who might have underachieved a bit as a 3-year old filly last season, has come back at age 4 in excellent form and won her first-ever Grade 1 race in the Derby City Distaff. The Bill Mott trainee got a little layoff after winning three of her eight starts in 2021 and has come back 2-for-2, including a Grade 3 stakes win in Florida in March. She beat a quality field Saturday that included five other graded stakes winners, wearing down Four Graces in the final furlong with favorite Just One Time finishing third. Obligatory paid $9.60 to win.
Jack Christopher makes big splash on Derby Day
Last fall, the connections of Jack Christopher probably would have envisioned their horse making a big splash on Derby Day. That turned out to be the case Saturday — just not in the race that they had in mind.
Jack Christopher, who went off as the heavy 3-to-5 favorite in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile, won by an easy breezy three lengths and looked very much like a 3-year old who could be a factor in big races this summer and fall.
Jack Christopher seemed like he would be the star of Chad Brown’s barn when he won the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes, which is traditionally one of the top races for 2-year-olds. But an injury that required a screw to be inserted and then removed from his shin took him out of training after that race and ultimately out of contention for the Derby. After a strong comeback race under jockey Jose Ortiz, it looks like Jack Christopher is fully healthy again. It was Brown’s second win of the day.
Derby bettors boost pair of California horses
With fewer than six hours until the Kentucky Derby, we can start to see how the odds are going to take shape. Though things will change and millions more will be added to the wagering pools as the afternoon moves along, we can get some clues from the early betting for how the tote board is going to look.
Though Zandon was made the morning-line favorite, he’s currently the 7-1 fourth choice at 1:30 p.m. ET behind Epicenter (5-1), Taiba (5-1) and Messier (6-1). That’s a lot of support for the two California horses, Taiba and Messier, which may reflect that the public believes they are essentially part of the Bob Baffert stable despite the fact he’s banned from the Derby this year.
Taiba and Messier were transferred to the barn of Tim Yakteen, a former Baffert assistant, making them eligible for the Triple Crown while he serves a suspension related to last year’s Derby and the positive drug test of Medina Spirit.
There’s also strong early money on Cyberknife, who is 13-1 after starting at 20-1 on the morning line. White Abarrio, the Florida Derby winner, is 12-1 while the runner-up in that race, Charge It, is 13-1 currently.
Longshot rallies to spring an upset Knicks Go
We have our first big upset of Derby Day in the 6th race, where 36-to-1 longshot Three Technique rallied on the far outside to beat Injunction, who carried the field into the far turn.
In a one-mile race named for Knicks Go, the horse who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year, Three Technique, did not figure to be much of a factor. With just three wins in 22 lifetime starts coming in, he was easy to overlook. But with a really fast pace up front, it set up well for someone to come from off the pace and jockey Rafael Bejarano was able to get a strong finishing kick.
Renown turf horse trainer Chad Brown could be in for special day
Trainer Chad Brown, who has morning-line favorite Zandon in the Derby later, just won the Grade 2 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile with even-money favorite Speak of the Devil. It was a very impressive victory for the 5-year-old French import, who was making her American debut after some very impressive performances last year overseas. Flavien Prat, the 2019 Derby-winning jockey on Country House, conjured an impressive ride on Speak of the Devil, who swept from last to first very quickly around the far turn.
Brown, who is widely regarded as the best trainer in America for turf horses, has several more opportunities to notch victories before the Derby today.
Notably, he’ll send out Jack Christopher — who was 2-for-2 last year as a promising 2-year old — as the likely favorite in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile. He’ll also have Portfolio Company in the Grade 2 American Turf, Reinvestment Risk in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Stakes and three entries in the Grade 1 Turf Classic right before the Derby.
It’s shaping up to be a potentially big day for Brown, who has yet to win the Kentucky Derby.
Derby track playing fair in early races
It’s always important on Derby Day to see how the track is playing, and the fourth race certainly makes it look like a fair track so far. The winner was Creative Minister, one of the favorites, who rallied down the center of the track for trainer Kenny McPeek and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. to get the victory at 7-2 odds. At the same time, Cover Me Up was hustled out of the gate early by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., to get to the rail, set a pretty fast pace up front but still held on for a solid second at 6-to-1.
We’ll definitely be monitoring conditions as the day goes along, but it’s a good sign that the track is playing fair when speed horses aren’t fading but come-from-behind horses still have a chance to close.
And we’re off…
Congressman, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Flavien Prat, takes the opener at Churchill Downs and pays $11 to win. A late burst got him past the favorite, Warrior Johny.
In the second race, Irad Ortiz Jr. runs in his first winner of the day with the favorite, Surfer Dude. Ortiz will have a busy day and will ride Mo Donegal later today in the Derby.
Lady Rockstar takes the third race convincingly under Tyler Gaffalione. No big payouts so far, as a win bet on Lady Rockstar pays just $8.00.
Kentucky Derby notes
Welcome to a cool and cloudy Derby Day from Churchill Downs, where it appears the rain will hold off today but temperatures probably won’t get much above 60 degrees.
After a week of talking to trainers, owners and jockeys every morning on the backstretch, I’m now camped out in media seats right across from the 1/8th pole today and will be here for the duration of today’s card all the way until Derby post time just before 7 p.m.
As always, it’s a long haul from the morning until the big race. But for horse racing fans and gamblers, the Derby Day card is always one of the best of the year with lots of stakes races and great betting opportunities.
The third race just went official with Lady Rockstar winning an allowance race on turf for trainer Brendan Walsh, who is having a nice weekend. The Irishman won the Grade 2 Edgewood Stakes on Friday with New Year’s Eve.
The day begins before sunrise in a soggy Louisville. Not much sunshine is expected Saturday, and it will be in the 50s, but the forecast calls for dry weather.
And we have a Mayor Pete sighting.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kentucky Derby live updates: Rich Strike wins at Churchill Downs