The horse entered the Derby at 80-1 odds — the biggest long-shot in the 20-horse field — after only being added to the race when another horse dropped out the day before.
Despite the lack of expectation, Rich Strike surged through the field in a dramatic lung-busting finish to claim the most unlikely of victories.
The Belmont is not only the last jewel in the coveted Triple Crown, it’s also the longest race at one-and-a-half miles.
The extra distance and subsequent slower pace is likely to suit Rich Strike who has stamina to burn, as demonstrated by his finish in the Derby.
His owners had always planned to skip the Preakness — ending any hopes of a Triple Crown winner this year — in order to rest and prepare perfectly for the Belmont.
“It’s been an incredible ride, we’ve had a lot of fun with it. The horse is just doing superb,” Rich Strike’s owner Rick Dawson told reporters, before talking up his horse’s chances on Saturday.
“We’re not really sure we’ve seen the best of him. We think he’s just improving, so maybe Saturday, we’ll see. If he steps up a little bit, I think he wins this race.”
A smaller field of just eight horses will bid for victory with Mo Donegal and We The People joining Rich Strike as the bookmakers’ top three choices.
Epicenter, who was an unlucky runner-up in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, will not lineup in New York in order to give the horse a rest.
The connections — the owners and trainers — of Preakness winner Early Voting have also decided not to race the champion.
How to watch
The Belmont Stakes is set to run at 6:44 p.m. ET on June 11. Those in the US can watch across NBC platforms.