LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike arrived at Churchill Downs late Monday morning for his scheduled appearance in the $500,000 G2 Lukas Classic on Oct. 1.
Following a sixth-place effort in the G1 Belmont Stakes and a subsequent fourth in the G1 Travers, Rich Strike returns to the site of his striking upset in the Kentucky Derby, as well as his 17 ¼ lengths maiden-breaking score, where he was claimed for $30,000.
Should he win the Lukas Classic, in which he faces older rivals for the first time, the three-year-old Keen Ice colt’s record at Churchill Downs will become a perfect three-for-three.
When asked about a potential start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, trainer Eric Reed said a win on Saturday would determine whether they head to Keeneland or not. If not, the Lukas Classic will be a springboard to the G1 Clark Handicap on Nov. 27. “Timing is right in the Clark,” Reed said.
Among those likely to enter the starting gate for the 1 ⅛ miles dirt affair are Grade 1 winners Happy Saver and Hot Rod Charlie, both of whom have never been off-the-board beneath the twin spires. Wertheimer and Frere’s Happy Saver, winner of the 2020 edition of the G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, was the runner-up in this year’s G2 Alysheba and last year’s G1 Clark. He also flaunts runner-up efforts in this year’s G1 Metropolitan Handicap and G1 Whitney.
Boat Racing, LLC, Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck), Roadrunner Racing and Strauss, William’s G1 Pennsylvania Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie was third in last year’s running of the Kentucky Derby, elevated to second via the disqualification of Medina Spirit. This year, he boasts a second-place finish in the G1 Dubai World Cup and a third in the G1 Whitney.
Others likely to face RED TR-Racing, LLC’s Rich Strike are G2 Suburban winner Dynamic One, G3 Lexington winner and recent Fort Larned third-place finisher King Fury, and G2 Oaklawn Handicap victor Last Samurai.
Rich Strike is scheduled to gallop early Tuesday morning.
By Amber Joyce, Contributing Editor
Photo: Rich Strike on June 4 (Susie Raisher)
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