Sonny Leon, jockey who won Kentucky Derby with Rich Strike, raced Friday at Belterra Park

·4 min read
Jockey Sonny Leon celebrates after Rich Strike's victory in the 148th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
Jockey Sonny Leon celebrates after Rich Strike's victory in the 148th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Part of the improbable story of 80-1 long shot Rich Strike winning Saturday's 148th running of the Kentucky Derby was that his jockey, Sonny Leon, rode several races on Friday at Belterra Park in Anderson Township.

The horse also had a recent Cincinnati-area connection: In his last race, Rich Strike finished third at Turfway Park in Florence - in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on April 2.

Social media reactions from Belterra Park (before and after the win, congratulating Leon and trainer Eric Reed) and others:

DRF.com's Marty McGee wrote in April about Reed's connections to Turfway and Belterra.

Reed, 57, has racked up 1,441 wins since he began training in 1985, with only one of those coming in a graded stakes. His stable is geared more toward Turfway, Belterra Park, Mahoning Valley, Horseshoe Indianapolis, and Mountaineer, but he does run occasionally at Keeneland and Churchill. Running in the Derby would realize a lifelong dream.

More from Louisville Courier Journal's Jason Frakes:

Rich Strike, who was on the also-eligible list until Friday morning, made a stunning move along the rail to win the Kentucky Derby on a cool and cloudy first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs.

Rich Strike finished third in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on April 2 at Turfway Park and stood No. 21 on the final points list for the Derby, which is limited to 20 runners. He was entered Monday as an also eligible and earned a spot in the race Friday morning when trainer D. Wayne Lukas chose to scratch Ethereal Road.

He finished 5¾ lengths behind Tiz the Bomb in the Jeff Ruby Steaks, earning the 20 points he needed to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.

Now the chestnut colt will go down in history after earning the winner’s share of $1.86 million for owner Richard Dawson of RED TR-Racing.

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This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Sonny Leon rode Friday at Belterra Park, won Kentucky Derby Saturday