By Bill Finley
GI Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike (Keen Ice) is making progress since being sidelined since May with tendon problems and may make it back in time to compete in the Jan. 27 GI Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park, reports his owner Rick Dawson.
Rich Strike last raced on May 5 when a distant fifth in the GII Alysheba S. at Churchill Downs. He was subsequently transferred from the barn of trainer Eric Reed to Hall of Famer Bill Mott.
“The bigger races we are pointing toward would include the Pegasus,” Dawson said. “That would be the first Grade I race we might go after, but he could race before that in a less-competitive race.”
Dawson said that shortly after the Alysheba, Rich Strike was sent to the Rood and Riddle clinic as a precautionary measure and it was then that it was discovered that he was suffering from problems with his tendons in both front legs.
“He’s rehabbing from some issues he had with his front tendons, left front and right front,” Dawson said. “Both have recovered extremely well. Dr. Bramlage at Rood and Riddle did all the work. He’s had ultrasounds, X-rays, etc. and he is doing really well. At times, his front suspensory tendons would get inflamed and get slightly damaged. They never tore but scar tissue built up in both legs. There was scar tissue where tendon fibers should have been. Through his treatment and exercise, certain feed, etc., that scar tissue started to reverse itself. It’s been a long process but, basically, the tendons were able to get back to normal. We are very fortunate that he did not tear a tendon while training or running. I’m extremely happy that this was caught back in May.”
Rich Strike is currently under light training at Margaux Farm in Midway, Kentucky.
“He is jogging one day, galloping the next,” Dawson said. “We’ll be there for another few weeks and at that point Bill Mott and I will discuss where we go from there. Due to his lengthy rehab and our choice to be very conservative and take our time with him so he could get back on track and so that we can give him every opportunity to come back at his best, we are looking at sometime in November for him to begin more serious training with Bill. Maybe we can catch a race in late December.”
It’s been a rough go for Rich Strike since he won the 2022 Derby. He’s gone 0-for-6 since and in his last two starts, the Alysheba and the GI Clark S., he was beaten a combined 25 lengths. But Dawson remains hopeful that Rich Strike can get back to the form that carried him to a shocking win in the Derby at odds of 80-1.
“We won’t know more until we get him back in real training,” he said. “I’ll trust Bill to inform me so far as where his skill level is. If he can return to that skill level he showed when winning the Derby, that would be fantastic. We’ll see how he does and let him tell us what is next. If he can continue to run at a high level, we will continue to race him. If not, he’ll retire and go to the breeding shed.”