Meet Jeff Sanders, a schoolteacher in Bristol, Virginia who bought his first thoroughbred race horse at the Keeneland Yearling Sale in 2019 for $2,000 after teaching himself about the racing business for several years.
He brought his newly purchased mare, Eowyn, to Bristol where he soon realized he needed an actual trainer to find success on the track. After looking through a list of conditioners via the Jockey Club website, he reached out to Eric Reed, who just happened to saddle 81-1 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike on Saturday!
Jeff immediately liked Eric, who he said is very down to earth. In 10 starts over 1 1/2, years, Eowyn collected 3 wins and a pair or seconds and thirds. With hopes of becoming a trainer one day, Jeff has visited Reed several times and shadowed him to gain experience. His most recent visit came two months before Rich Strike competed in Turfway Park’s Derby prep —- the Jeff Ruby Steaks Stakes where he ended up taking third.
“Eric was talking about him then and thought he had a nice prospect. I’ve followed the horse since and was thrilled with the Derby win but think he may be even better suited for the Belmont with the extra distance.”
Jeff admitted he won several hundred dollars by betting Rich Strike to win, place and show Saturday but wish he would have included him in some exactas and trifectas. With a pair of 2020 Virginia-Certified fillies he owns based at his 12-acre farm, an obvious question arises —- will Jeff be reaching out to Reed to train the two beginning next year? “Hopefully, if I can still afford him!”