Kentucky Derby Controversy: It was the wrong call

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After having watched the 2019 Kentucky Derby replay several times and trying to be as objective as I can, I have come to the conclusion that what happened to Maximum Security was the wrong decision.

To inject a little humor, I must say I strenuously object.

The disqualified winner of the Run for the Roses was wronged based on a couple of mitigating factors. First off, the most popular phrase ‘the law of the land’ was used a lot post-Derby while the objection was lodged and reviewed. Think about this though: Why didn’t the stewards post an inquiry immediately following the race?

There were two jockey objections – one by Jon Court who rode Long Range Toddy and one by the runner-up on the sloppy track Satuday, Flavien Prat, who rode Country House. I am in no way saying that what Maximum Security did was right but as long as I have covered horse racing I have always understood that an inquiry is to be called if the infraction cost the other horses a better placing. In this case, there was no way that it did. Long Range Toddy was stopping and Country House was hanging without gaining any real ground.

Why didn’t Tyler Gaffalione who rode War of Will claim foul? If anything, he got crushed in the incident. I believe he would have finished much better than he did otherwise.

My real point of contention is that the stewards didn’t give enough of an explanation for their reasons for disqualifying Maximum Security. I have an inquiry for the stewards, so to speak. “You watched the same race we all did so why in the world did you not post an inquiry?” To me that is an egregious mistake that should be punishable in some fashion, especially considering the magnitude of the race and the end result.

Another lesson I have learned is when a jockey makes a frivolous claim of foul, he is to be punished as well. I reference Flavien Prat, who I believe made a claim of foul that was totally misguided. He knows that no contact was made between Maximum Security and Country House. Prat made a bad call to challenge the results based on something I really do not know. He should know he was not a victim of interference and lost the race fair-and-square. Maybe this will sound rash but Prat should be fined.

As a fan, I was disgusted at what happened but I do have a crazy side story I have to share. I was sitting in the lobby of my workplace awaiting the start of my shift, which started 10 minutes after the Derby. I watched the race on my phone and was ready to write about how gutsy Maximum Security was over the slop. When I settled in to work, I saw where the objection had been called. As I watched the drama unfold, I thought to myself ‘there is no way that the winning horse of the biggest race in America would be disqualified’. No way indeed.

So what does this mean going forward as we await the Preakness? That’s easy. I will say it now. If Country House goes to the Preakness, he is an absolute bet against. I have yet to see all who are planning to head to Baltimore but it matters not because Country House has no chance.

UPDATE: How right was I? More than I knew. He can’t win because he isn’t even going to run the second leg:

I just hope that we have no repeat occurrence like we did in the first leg of the Triple Crown. Integrity of the races is far too important for the results of the 145th Kentucky Derby to become a trend.

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George Pepis

George Pepis

Horse Racing Analyst

George Pepis provides racing analysis during each Fair Grounds racing season. He also shares commentary and selections for major stakes events and prep races around the country. In the past, George has hosted sports talk programming on WGSO 990am in New Orleans. He has served as both play-by-play and color analyst on Louisiana high school football radio and internet broadcasts.

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