Kentucky Derby longshot winner Rich Strike disappointed legion of fans in his final 2022 appearance. The small-stable media darling didn’t just lose the Grade 1 Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs, he finished last.
The loss extended his post-Derby losing streak to five races. In four of those defeats, Rich Strike failed to “hit the board,” which is racing parlance for finishing among the top three. His underperformance turned Win, Place and Show tickets into worthless confetti nearly 100 percent of the time in that span.
Rich Strike’s career hasn’t impoverished everyone, though. For owners of Excuse Factory, the largest US manufacturer in the Equivocations and Deflections (E&D) industry, Rich Strike’s repeated disappointments were a godsend.
CEO Don Rumsfeld (no relation to the former US Secretary of Defense) summed it up this way, “Although our core products, which include Blame Putin and Russia Did It, both saw an increase in sales, we experienced steep revenue declines in the COVID Caused It and Trump Screwed It Up departments.”
Rich Strike emerged as one of the most improbable Kentucky Derby winners ever (at odds of 80 to 1), but it’s an even longer shot that the relatively small racing industry turned out to be the main driver of the USA’s massive excuse-making sector.
“Thoroughbred racing has always been a steady performer in the E&D industry,” Rumsfeld explained. “Racing fans, with their instinct for blame-shifting and need for ego-massaging, consume the widest range of our E&D products, but historically our overall revenue from racing is shallow.”
What factors changed that dynamic this year for Excuse Factory and other companies in the E&D industry?
“Surveys show that in 2022 get rich quick surpassed achieve instant status as Americans’ dominant life philosophy.”
That’s the view offered by Patricia T. Barnum, Professor of Primitive Assumptions at online educator Just Like Harvard University (JLHU). “Rich Strike embodied that societal shift toward get rich quick both in spirit and in name. He rode that wave like a barnacle attached to a boat. Like a tortoise riding a porpoise. And by late November, like a turtle without a purpose.”
Don Rumsfeld agrees. “It was like a tidal wave. Demand surged instantly after his loss in the Belmont Stakes. We had to rush to set up additional production lines for excuses like ‘terrible jockey ride,’ ‘unfavorable pace scenario,’ ‘winner cheated,’ and ‘bad race spacing.’ Thankfully we were able to repurpose the production line for ‘Hunter Biden is working through some issues‘ without taking a hit to earnings. There was also a pause in ‘Kanye is just misunderstood‘ demand, which also helped us ramp up for Rich Strike prevarication mania.”
Professor Barnum confesses that JLHU’s finances experienced the opposite outcome. “We didn’t necessarily not see the trend occurring. We just didn’t see it well enough. Not not. Just not well. Once the get rich quick surge became obvious, some of us lobbied to change the name of our school to Jackpot College. But the traditionalists won that battle, so we remain Just Like Harvard.”
It remains to be seen whether profits on Rich Strike excuse-making can be sustained. Taking the optimistic view, Excuse Factory recently cut the ribbon on a “He Lost Because the Surface Was Cuppy” facility just outside of Lexington, Kentucky. “We see it as a year-round excuse product with excellent growth potential. We’re hoping Rich Strike can pump up demand for it by losing again in the Dubai World Cup.”
Professor Barnum isn’t as optimistic. “Waves that come in strong never last too long. What’s the next shift in the mindset of Americans? Get back to me in 9 months and I’ll tell you what the hot excuses are.”
Maybe the E&D industry can find their answer sooner by parsing Barnum’s final comment, which she phrased as a question: “So, seriously, this Rich Strike trifecta box is no good?”