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Kentucky Thoroughbred Association leader says Rich Strike win reinforces upward cycle in racing

Churchill Downs /Coady Photography

The head of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association says the Kentucky Derby defied some doomsday predictions. Chauncey Morris said wagering was at a record high with 147,000 people at Churchill Downs. And then, Morris noted the second-longest shot ever to win the race, Rich Strike contributed to a very positive outcome. The KTA executive director said, like Secretariat in the 1970s, Rich Strike is another memorable winner.

“If they can remember the names of our equine athletes and our champions for the both the last few times and also for years to come, then we’ll be in a very good spot,” said Morris.

Morris noted there have been negative stories regarding the racing industry which he adds were legitimately earned. But, he added those in the business have made a commitment to the provisions of the federal Horse Integrity and Safety Act.

The KTA leader said the racing industry rallied behind Rich Strike Trainer Eric Reed when he lost 23 horses in a 2016 barn fire. Morris said Thoroughbred racing is an insular business that takes care of those inside breeding and racing.

“The cycle of the 24 hours a day, seven days a week, taking care of something that has a heartbeat is just so intensive, but Eric, he’s been around a long time and this is a fantastic outcome and everybody likes to say sort of Cinderella outcome, but it’s just proof of hard work,” said Morris.

Morris said jockey Sonny Leon’s directing of Rich Strike amounted to a brilliant ride. Asked if the story of the three-year-old Derby winner might make it onto a movie screen someday, Morris laughed and said, quote, “we can always hope.”

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