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Jockey Sonny Leon throws roses in celebration after the win of Rich Strike at the 148th Kentucky Derby, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on May 7, 2022.AMIRA KARAOUD/Reuters

There will be no Triple Crown champion this year after the owner of Kentucky Derby champion horse Rich Strike announced Thursday that his colt will skip the Preakness Stakes and run instead in the Belmont Stakes.

Rick Dawson said that Rich Strike came out of the Derby in fine shape but that he and trainer Eric Reed decided to not push the colt into the second leg of the Triple Crown in Baltimore next Saturday after only two weeks of rest, especially after winning America’s most famous race (and a legion of fans) as an 80-1 shot.

The colt did not even draw into the Derby field until the day before the race when Ethereal Road scratched.

“Our original plan for Rich Strike was contingent on the Kentucky Derby. Should we not run in the Derby, we would point toward the Preakness,” Dawson said in a statement. “Should we run in the Derby, subject to the race outcome and the condition of our horse, we would give him more recovery time.”

Dawson said one possible plan was to run the horse, nicknamed Ritchie, in the Belmont Stakes in New York on June 11, but in any event to give him five to six weeks between races.

“Obviously, with our tremendous effort and win in the Derby, it’s very, very tempting to alter our course and run in the Preakness at Pimlico, which would be a great honor for all our group,” Dawson continued. “However, after much discussion and consideration with my trainer, Eric Reed, and a few others, we are going to stay with our plan of what’s best for Ritchie is what’s best for our group, and pass on running in the Preakness, and point toward the Belmont in approximately five weeks.”

In a statement, Reed said of the horse, “What matters most is what’s best for him. We hate the decision we had to make, but it was the right one.”

The defection of Rich Strike means Epicenter, who finished second in the Derby and is committed to the Preakness, is now the likely favorite to win the second jewel in the Triple Crown.