Official's 'disgraceful' act against Kentucky Derby winner sparks outrage

·4-min read
Seen here, a steward strikes Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike as it was being led off the track.
A steward was seen striking Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike as it was being led off the track. Pic: NBC Sports

A racing official has sparkled outrage after appearing to punch the Kentucky Derby-winning horse in the face as it was leaving the track.

Rich Strike - an 80-1 long shot in the famous race - put on a blistering late surge to beat Epicenter and Zandon in one of the the biggest upsets in Derby history.

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However, the Eric Reed-trained colt's against-the-odds victory was overshadowed by a controversial post-race incident involving an official.

Winning jockey Sonny Leon was accompanied by an escort rider when a fired up Rich Strike appeared to try and bite the lead pony the marshal was riding on.

In his attempt to control the Derby winner, the escort rider could be seen striking the horse in the face, in scenes that left viewers horrified.

Rich Strike storms home for astonishing Derby win

In what is being hailed as a run for the ages, Rich Strike took out the $US 3 million ($AUD4.2 million) race with an astonishing turn of speed down the final straight.

With favorite Epicenter and Zandon engaged in a duel at the front, Rich Strike stole the show with the second-biggest upset in the Derby's 148-year history.

The chestnut colt beat 4-1 favourite Epicenter by three-quarters of a length. Zandon finished another three-quarters of a length back in third.

“I about fell down in the paddock when he hit the wire,” winning trainer Eric Reed said. “I about passed out.”

Rich Strike paid $163.60, with only Donerail in 1913 having a higher payout of $184.90.

“What a crazy Derby," said trainer Kenny McPeek, whose horses finished eighth and ninth.

Jockey Sonny Leon celebrates after winning the 2022 Kentucky Derby on 80-1 outsider Rich Strike. Pic: Getty
Jockey Sonny Leon celebrates after winning the 2022 Kentucky Derby on 80-1 outsider Rich Strike. Pic: Getty

Rich Strike wasn’t even in the Derby until Friday when Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas scratched Ethereal Road, making room for the chestnut colt who had just two previous wins in his career.

“We found out about 30 seconds before the deadline on Friday,” owner Rick Dawson said. “It put us in the race and really we always felt if we just got in we’ve got a shot.”

with agencies

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