How to fix the Kentucky Derby

Ross Houston
May 6, 2019

The race itself takes about two minutes to complete, but this year, that was followed by about 20 minutes of deliberation after a horse's trainer submitted an objection. Suddenly, skipping the Preakness Stakes didn't seem like such a good idea, considering that he now had a ludicrously improbable Kentucky Derby victor on his hands with Country House.

But first a few thoughts on what happened Saturday, when a almost 22 minute review resulted in Maximum Security becoming the first Derby-winning horse to be disqualified in 145 runnings of the race.

Long shot Country House was declared the victor of the 2019 Kentucky Derby despite crossing the finish line second.

Stewards cited a rule that calls for disqualification if a "leading horse or any other horse in a race swerves or is ridden to either side so as to interfere with, intimidate, or impede any other horse or jockey".


Obviously, a lot of people were upset over the Derby results, starting with those who had bet on race favorite Maximum Security.

Mike Tirico explained the ruling for NBC. Maximum Security's jockey Luis Saez said the noise of the 150,729 fans unnerved the horse, but he quickly got him back under control. We determined that the 7-horse drifted out and impacted the progress of No. 1 (and) in turn interfering with the 18 and 21 (Bodexpress). "Every Kentucky Derby you could shut down two, three, four horses because it's like a rodeo out there". It's just such an unusual way to have to go to the winner's circle and win a Kentucky Derby.

"You can't erase the fact he [Maximum Security] did come over and hinder the other horses' chances but the stewards were following the rules of racing. Win, lose or draw, we're not going to know the outcome of that until probably months, if not years, down the road".

It was the first victor in the 145-year history of the $3m (£2.2m) race to be disqualified on the day. "But in the Kentucky Derby where you have 20 horses, and you shouldn't have 20 horses in the Kentucky Derby".


The reason the decision took so long, and why there's still so much consternation about it now, is that the Derby isn't a normal horse race.

Casse said even though his colt was the most affected by the incident, he did not consider filing an objection. They said, 'absolutely not. But you realize, if I claim foul, it ruins the biggest accomplishment in (Maximum Security trainer Jason Servis') life and the only thing that's going to do is move me up to sixth.

There's not going to be a rematch at The Preakness Stakes.

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group.


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