Before winning the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike’s trainer lost two dozen horses in a 2016 barn fire

After winning the 148th Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike’s trainer Eric Reed should understandably feel like he’s standing on Cloud Nine. When you make history and floor the entire horse racing and betting sphere in the process, the world is your oyster.

But with great glory comes a degree of adversity and, in this case, a terrible tragedy.

Before Rich Strike kicked it into gear in unprecedented fashion down the stretch on Saturday, Reed once had to salvage the impossible from the ground up. As impressive as his horse’s run was, this is about the horror he endured before capturing horse racing’s most prestigious title:

In late 2016, on his farm in Lexington, a massive barn fire claimed the lives of 24 horses under his care.

More from WKYT News:

“The owner of the training center, Eric Reed says they rescued as many as they could before the flames took over.

‘My other guys were helping and the horses would run back in naturally and we would have to take them back out. The barn started collapsing and we just had to call it off,’ Reed said.

Reed says there were 36 horses inside the barn at the time, but only close to a dozen made it out alive.”

Oh my goodness. I can’t even comprehend the courage that compels you to run back toward danger after escaping to safety. It’s simply unfathomable. I wouldn’t have blamed Reed if he gave up on training then and there for pure trauma’s sake.

A half-decade later, he and Rich Strike are co-owners of the famed rose garland. What a remarkable twist of fate after so much heartache.

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Before winning the Kentucky Derby, Rich Strike’s trainer lost two dozen horses in a 2016 barn fire