Kentucky Derby Winner Rich Strike’s Canadian Connection

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on May 11, 2022 - Last Updated on October 3, 2022
Rich Strike wins Kentucky Derby

Saturday’s news about the Kentucky Derby is still fresh, and everyone’s talking about Rich Strike’s win.

Part of the conversation? That the horse who shocked the world with its Kentucky Derby win this weekend has a special Canadian connection.

A special connection to Manitoba

The mother of the Kentucky Derby winner, Gold Strike, was born and bred in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the tiny community of Brunkild.

CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, Jim Lawson, told

“The horse racing industry is one where connections can be found everywhere you go.”

Gold Strike was a champion 3-year-old filly in Canada, winning four type-black events, including Woodbine Oaks. She also won the Selene Stakes (G3) and took third in Canada’s premier classic, the Queen’s Plate Stakes.

“Our racing scene knew Gold Strike as a star competitor a little more than 15 years ago. Gold Strike won our biggest race for fillies, the Woodbine Oaks, and finished third in the prestigious Queen’s Plate.”

Gold Strike is the dam of three other winners, including Sky Mesa filly Lianarmon who proved successful in the Natalma Stakes (G2T).

Lawson said:

“Now, here in 2022, her son Rich Strike is the Kentucky Derby champion, and it’s a great feeling for us at Woodbine to know our racing program was a part of the journey.”

Gold Strike retired and became a broodmare in 2008. She foaled Rich Strike the following year in Kentucky.

Another horse with Canadian flavour: Messier

A product of five generations of Sam-Son breeding, Messier is part of the second-last crop of horses to come out of  Sam-Son’s Milton, ON, farm. American buyers bought the horse at auction as a yearling in 2020 for $470,000 (US).

Messier had a legitimate shot despite missing the win at this year’s race.

Had he won Saturday’s $3 million race, it would have made him the third Canadian-bred horse to win the Derby in its long history. Previous winners were Northern Dancer (1965) and Sunny’s Halo (1983).

One of the biggest races is now behind us

Twenty entrants took part in the annual Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 7. Before the race, three horses—Zandon, Epicenter and Mo Donegal—were favourites to win.

Rich Strike, the 80-1 shot and former $30,000 claimer, was a last-minute addition to the derby, joining the race 33 hours before its start. The rest, as they say, is history.

Rich Strike managed to come from behind to win the 148th Run for the Roses at the second-highest winning odds in history for a team of first-time Kentucky Derby starters. That means a $10 bet on Rich Strike to win netted bettors a tidy $818 return.

As colleague Dave Briggs described:

“One of horse racing’s most appealing narratives is that every so often the “little guy’s” horse can jump up and beat the billionaires’ blue-blooded beasts.”

And that’s the story that Rich Strike wrote Saturday night.

Photo by Shutterstock
Katarina Vojvodic Avatar
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina is a Toronto-based online gambling writer who holds a master's degree in journalism. Before joining PlayCanada, she was part of the AskGamblers crew where she reported about the world of online casinos and interviewed numerous iGaming experts. Being in the industry for 5 years, she became an expert in online slots.

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