Rich Strike is looking relaxed and full of energy as he prepares for the Belmont Stakes on June 11th.
The colt did his final breeze at Churchill Downs on May 30th covering five-furlongs in 0:59. With his regular exercise rider, Gabriel Lagunes, in the irons, the colt showed some sass with some bucking at the beginning of the ride, but then relaxed into the workout. For those not familiar with racing terms, a breeze is a workout at a moderate speed. If you listen to the video, you’ll hear the commentators talking about how relaxed the colt looks, how Lagunes keeps his hands steady and down on the horse’s shoulders (not urging him on) and how his ears flip back and forth. The final analysis is he still had a lot of fuel in the tank.
Now at Belmont Park, Rich Strike has been out on the track twice, starting to settle into a routine. The first day he went to the training track along with outrider Juan Galvez and his pony Stormy, taking the Derby winner two laps the wrong way around to get him used to working with a lead pony (no one wants the same kind of savaging that happened in the Derby).
“He settled down a lot the second time round. A lot of that was trying to get him used to the pony. You could see the farther he went the better he accepted the pony,” Reed said. “I think by the end of the week they’ll be good buddies and on race day he needs a buddy.”Eric Reed
Rich Strike galloped a mile and a half today over a sloppy Belmont track, getting used to the deep surface of “Big Sandy”. Trainer Eric Reed says the colt won’t breeze again before the big race, but will be able to stretch his legs with some gallops.
“Today, we took him to the main track. It was a little wet, so we just went one time around and we kind of made him go at our pace. He didn’t care for that. His ears were back and he was wanting to go. So, tomorrow he’ll get a chance to go out and train like normal.”Eric Reed
Back at the barn, Rich relaxes with his security blanket — groom Jerry Dixon, Jr. It’s great to see the bond that the somewhat fractious colt has with his groom. For those people who have never seen the depth of the horse-human connection, it’s a real eye opener.
What do you think of Rich Strike’s chances in the Belmont?