As a throng of media greeted him at Churchill Downs on Sunday morning, Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Eric Reed couldn’t help but think back to the only other time he was the subject of such attention.

It came in December of 2016 when a fire at his Mercury Equine Center in Lexington killed 23 of his horses. Reed considered getting out of the business.

“I’ve only had this happen one time before, and it wasn’t under these good circumstances,” he said of the attention. “I’m so happy to be here with a bright, sunny day and everybody happy. When I started training at 18, I never thought I’d be in the Derby.

“Just getting in the Derby, for me, was like a win.

Reed got that and much more when Rich Strike — longest shot in the race at 80-1 odds — rallied along the rail and beat favored Epicenter by three-quarters of a length in front of 147,294 stunned fans.

OPINION:Rich Strike’s stunning win is ultimate palate cleanser for troubled sport

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