Almost six years ago, Eric Reed almost quit the horse training business.
A fire engulfed one of the barns at his Lexington, Kentucky equine center in the middle of a December night. killing 23 thoroughbred horses and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
“When we got there that night, I told my wife, I said, ‘we probably lost everything,’” Reed said this week. “The next morning when we saw the devastation … I just thought about all the years and all the things we had done to get this beautiful farm and to make it happen, that something might tell me it’s the end of the line. . ”
It was 2016.
Reed didn’t give up and, with friends – and sometimes strangers – who showed up to help, he continued to train. “I just decided, I wasn’t going to let him take me out.”
It paid off: Reed is now a Kentucky Derby winner.
Rich Strike, the horse he trains, came in as the biggest shooting shot of the race (80-1 odds) and leapt forward on the home stretch by crossing the finish line first with a time of 2: 02.61.
The win was all the more jaw-dropping as Rich Strike wasn’t even on the pitch until Friday when derby officials announced the retirement of another horse. Reed told reporters that he dropped his team a few days before the race, on the possibility that the horse might have a chance to run, to start preparing “against all odds.”
“Nobody thought we could get in,” he said. When the horse finished first, Reed nearly passed out. Rich Strike is his first winning horse in the derby.
“Everyone would love to win the derby. I always would, but I never thought I’d be here, ever,” Reed said.
Venezuelan jockey Sonny Leon, in his first Kentucky Derby, led Rich Strike to a surprise victory. Rich Strike is owned by RED TR-Racing, LLC, according to the derby place.
The next stage of the coveted triple crownthe Preakness Stakes, will be run at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland on May 21.