Maximum Security, an undefeated colt, looked to have extended his winning streak to the Kentucky Derby. His trainer, Jason Servis and his jockey Luis Saez looked jubilant. The horse had run a great race, breaking cleanly and staying up front the entire trip. His blaze and white bridle were clean. He crossed the finish line 3 1/2 lengths ahead.
But joy soon turned to anxiety and a long, stressful wait after Flavien Prat, Country House’s jockey, lodged a claim of interference against the winner. With the cameras trained on the faces of the trainers, jockeys and owners, a full range of emotions played across their features. Joy turned to despair for one team; to amazement on the other.
After multiple reviews and discussion, the stewards decided that Maximum Security had impeded War of Will (not Country House) when the horse drifted away from the rail, crossing several “lanes” of travel. In the replay it looks as if the two colts came close to clipping heels. Luckily, neither colt went down — which could have been deadly. But, the stewards ruled that by crossing in front of War of Will, Maximum Security had caused the colt to slow down. And so, Maximum Security became the first winner disqualified for interference in the Derby’s 145 year history. Certainly, looking at the photos, there was a lot of crowding in the home stretch. But with a field of 20, isn’t that part of the Derby?
The new winner — Country House, was a 65-1 long shot. He had won only one race before the Derby — and it wasn’t a stake race. Even without the disqualification of Maximum Security, this run was amazing. He broke from the 20th post position and far exceeded expectations.
The win gave Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott, his first Kentucky Derby win after 10 entries over a 35 year career. It was a first Derby win for jockey Flavien Prat, too.
What do you think of the stewards’ call?