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Rich Strike coach almost quit after fire

Eric Reed lost almost everything six years before the horse he trained pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby history at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Reed, the trainer of 80-1 Longshot winner Rich Strike, admitted he nearly quit horse racing after a 2016 fire killed 23 horses at his Mercury Equine Center in Lexington. Only 13 horses survived the fire, which was reportedly caused by lightning.

“As we drove there that night, I said to my wife, ‘We probably lost everything,'” Reed said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “By the grace of God, the wind was blowing in a direction that kept it from getting to the other two barns.

“When we saw the devastation the next morning because that was happening in the middle of the night, all I thought about was all the years and all the things we had done to get this beautiful farm and make this happen that I felt something could say it’s the end of the road.”

Coach Eric Reed holds the trophy after Rich Strike won the 148th heat of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs May 7, 2022 in Louisville.
Coach Eric Reed holds the trophy after Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby.
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Rich Strikes jockey Sonny Leon (left) hugs trainer Eric Reed after winning Saturday's Kentucky Derby.
Rich Strikes jockey Sonny Leon (left) hugs trainer Eric Reed after winning Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.
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Rich Strike was originally listed as a substitute, but he was included in the 20-horse field Friday morning when Ethereal Road was scratched by trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

In Reed’s first Derby practice appearance, jockey Sonny Leon led Rich Strike from the back end of the field approaching the final corner, past the popular epicenter, down the track along the track for the second biggest upset in the first leg’s 148-year history experience triple crown.

“We don’t go out and buy the big horses,” Reed said. “We just try to have a good quality stable. We always do well, our percentages are always good. We take care of the horse first and the rest will take care of itself.”

Reed also stressed his appreciation for several prominent coaches who supported him after the paddock fire six years earlier.

Sonny Leon (r.) celebrates after Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
Sonny Leon (r.) celebrates after Rich Strike won the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
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“I think that got me going,” Reed said. “Then I just decided not to let it get me down. Thank God we are here today.”

https://nypost.com/2022/05/08/kentucky-derby-rich-strike-trainer-nearly-quit-after-fire/ Rich Strike coach almost quit after fire

JOE HERNANDEZ

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