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The decision to keep Rich Strike out of the Preakness after the colt’s historic Kentucky Derby victory last week received praise on Thursday.
Owner Richard Dawson, trainer Eric Reed and others involved with the Derby winner agreed to rest the horse instead of pursuing a Triple Crown and will keep the thoroughbred out of the second race, opting to wait until the Belmont Stakes next month.
Marty Irby, the executive director of Animal Wellness Action, released a statement praising Dawson.
“We applaud the Rich Strike team for putting the welfare of the horse first and choosing not to run in the 147th Preakness Stakes,” Irby said in a statement to Fox News Digital. “Their decision to ‘give him more recovery time and rest’ is refreshing to see, and we have no doubt that Rich Strike will go down in the history books as one of the most famous American racehorses of all time.
“In addition, we were elated to learn the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission saw the blood test results of both Rich Strike, and the Kentucky Oaks winner came back clean, free from any illegal drugs, and that’s a tremendous step in the right direction. We hope to see a safe and drug free Preakness next week in Baltimore.”
For the fourth straight year there will not be a Triple Crown winner. Justified was the last winner in 2018. Dawson said their plans were always contingent on what was going to happen with them at the Kentucky Derby. While the win made things more tempting to race for the Triple Crown, the team decided against it.
“Our original plan for Rich Strike was contingent on the KY Derby, should we not run in the Derby we would point toward the Preakness, should we run in the Derby, subject to the race outcome & the condition of our horse, we would give him more recovery time & rest and run in the Belmont, or another race and stay on course to run with 5 or 6 weeks rest between races,” Dawson’s statement read.
“Obviously, with our tremendous effort & win in the Derby it’s very, very tempting to alter course & run in the Preakness at Pimlico, which would be a great honor for all our group, however, after much discussion & consideration with my trainer, Eric Reed & a few others, we are going to stay with our plan of what’s best for Ritchie is what’s best for our group, and pass on running in the Preakness, and point toward the Belmont in approximately 5 weeks.
“We thank the wonderful Preakness & Pimlico folks that have reached out to us & very much appreciate the invite.”
Rich Strike was an 80-1 long shot to win the Derby.
The Preakness is set for May 21. The Belmont will run on June 11.