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How often do Kentucky Derby winners skip the Preakness Stakes?

It doesn’t happen often, but it’s not unprecedented.

Rich Strike, with Sonny Leon up, wins the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 7, 2022. Silas Walker/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

There will be no Triple Crown winner in 2022. The horse that won the Kentucky Derby earlier this month, Rich Strike, is not running in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 21. Days after the long shot win in Louisville, the horse’s owner Rich Dawson announced. Instead Rich Strike will rest and recuperate ahead of the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

While the news came as a bit of a surprise, it is not unprecedented for a Kentucky Derby winner to skip the next race in the Triple Crown circuit. It’s happened 11 times since horse racing’s Triple Crown went to the order of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes.

It happened most recently in 2019, when Derby winner Country Horse had to withdraw from the Preakness because of a viral infection. Unfortunately for the horse, that proved to be the first in a cascade of ailments that led to his retirement from racing. But don’t worry, the stallion leads a good life in pasture, fetching a hefty sum to stud these days.

Prior to Country Horse, you have to go all the way back to 1996 to find a horse who didn’t race at Pimlico after winning the Derby. Grindstone was a on a roll that year, winning the Louisiana Derby and placing second in the Arkansas Derby before winning the Kentucky Derby. But he was retired just five days after that race when trainers discovered a bone chip in his knee. He was the first horse to retire immediately after winning the Derby since 1926.

Unlike Rich Strike, who’s healthy, both Country Horse and Grindstone didn’t run in the Preakness because of injuries and ailments. The last time a healthy Derby winner did not run in the Preakness was 1985 when Spend A Buck skipped the race.

Rich Strike won the Derby as an 81-1 long shot, the biggest upset at Churchill Downs in more than 100 years. We’ll have to wait until at least June to see the underdog in action again.