'The Movie Or The Horse': Reed Splits With Dawson, Rich Strike To Move To A New Trainer - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

‘The Movie Or The Horse’: Reed Splits With Dawson, Rich Strike To Move To A New Trainer

Trainer Eric Reed (red suit coat) watches owner Rick Dawson of RED-TR Racing hoists the Kentucky Derby trophy following Rich Strike’s stunning victory at Churchill Downs

In a Facebook post Thursday morning, owner Rick Dawson announced that Eric Reed has quit as his trainer, necessitating the move of 2022 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike to a new barn.

Dawson did not indicate who the new trainer will be.

The post reads:

“I just received notice, via a text, that Eric Reed has quit as my trainer. I have to make plans to move all my horses including Rich Strike immediately.

It appears his agent/manager & Eric are subject to an agreement with Omaha Prod they signed many months ago that may incriminate them regarding possible violation to my Trademark & NIL of my rights as owner of Rich Strike. See agent & Omaha Prod announcements.
Life will go on. GO RICHIE!”

Reed provided the following statement to Horse Racing Nation on the situation:

“I regret to announce that I have made a decision to resign as the trainer of Rich Strike. My stint as his trainer has been the joy of a lifetime, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity and the ride the horse has given me and to everyone associated with Reed Racing.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Dawson has made a demand of me that I simply can't abide. I have not made his decision lightly, but I have concluded that it is in the best interest of Reed Racing and my family. I wish nothing but the best for Rich Strike and Mr. Dawson going forward.”

Both men told HRN they did not expect a reconciliation was possible.

Yesterday, Dawson posted on his Facebook page to tell followers that “the use of Rich Strike, his name, image, and likeness has not been approved by me, as owner.” Dawson went on to say he had not approved the use of the horse's name, image, or likeness by Omaha Prod or any other entity besides one unnamed website and the Kentucky Derby Museum.

Dawson was referencing an announcement that former NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning's Omaha Productions plans to create a documentary about Reed and Rich Strike. Sports Business Journal indicated that the production company talked with Reed via Zoom about the project last fall, at which time Manning had heard rumors Reed may be considering deals from other companies. The Omaha Productions project was slated to be distributed by Amazon Prime Video.

Reed told Paulick Report that the planned documentary was not about Rich Strike, but a “family story” that begins with his father's “chaotic” childhood as told by Pat Forde last year in Sports Illustrated. Passed along from one bad  situation to another after his mother died when he was five years old, Herbert Reed hitchhiked from Powell County, Kentucky, to Versailles at age nine, found work at the track at 14 after lying about his age, and eventually would carve out a blue-collar career as a trainer.

“My father's story is remarkable and I'm happy someone's going to tell it,” Reed said. “It's a miracle the man's even around.”

Reed said he agreed to have Omaha Productions tell his family's story because of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Peyton Manning's close bond with his own father, Archie, also a football star in college and the NFL. “What better person to tell the story than Peyton Manning?” he said.

For his part, Manning said Omaha Productions wants to focus on stories about “community and family,” telling Deadline.com he and Reed have something in common. “His dad was a hero, like mine has been, and he was in a family business, so I could relate to that. It was important to him that the story be told right. It's not just the race, it's everything they overcame to get there.”

“Rick thinks somebody is trying to do a movie on the horse,” Reed added. “It's very, very unfortunate. I was given an ultimatum: the movie or the horse.”

Trainer Eric Reed, right, and his father, Herbert, after winning the Kentucky Derby

Reed said he has “seven or eight” horses for Dawson and has not been told yet where they will be going. The two men worked together since 2021, at which time Dawson has said he had been considering getting out of racing because as a minority owner he felt like he had little control over his horses and little opportunity to learn about the sport.

Rich Strike captured the imaginations of thousands of race fans with his stunning 80-1 upset in the Run for the Roses. Besides a second-place effort in the Grade 2 Lukas Classic last fall, he has failed to hit the board since his Derby victory.

The Keen Ice colt finished fifth, beaten 16 3/4 lengths in his 4-year-old debut May 5 in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks undercard at Churchill Downs. Reed said Rich Strike went back to the track Wednesday for the first time since that effort. “He was tired,” Reed said. “He moved well, but wasn't dragging the rider around the track.”

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