Kentucky Derby Upset: Maximum Security Disqualified for Interference After Crossing the Finish Line First

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.

Maximum Security and War of Will
Stewards decided that Maximum Security had impeded War of Will and disqualified the winner. The close up looks like the two colts came close to clipping heels. Had one or more of them gone down, there could have been a huge pile up..

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?




6 thoughts on “Kentucky Derby Upset: Maximum Security Disqualified for Interference After Crossing the Finish Line First

  1. I think it was a fair call. War of Will’s jockey should be given a raise for keeping good control and protecting his horse. The whole situation could have turned so ugly in a split second.

    1. I have such mixed feelings about it. I agree that it could have gotten ugly very fast. However, it’s hard to know what’s behind you. I’m not sure I understand what the responsibility is for the rider coming up behind vs. the one in front.

  2. I, too, think it was a fair call. What a dreadful wreck would have occurred had War of Will gone down…oh god, just the thought is scary. Technology is wonderful these days…the stewards had FIVE synchronized views of the impediment. They did what they were hired to do…look at it dispassionately, in the frame of ‘this is a race, not the Kentucky Derby” and in that light, it was the ONLY decision that could be made.
    In racing, Liz, every horse has his ‘lane’. He must go straight. A jockey knows that to be fair and safe, he must keep his horse in his lane. Just like driving a car on the highway…if you cross the line of YOUR lane, you are impeding the car behind you. You don’t need to know what the car is doing behind you if he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing.
    Back in the bad old days, this was how jockeys messed with other riders…they’d purposefully steer into their opponents lane in order to get him to back off or pull up. WHERE they did it mattered…they wouldn’t do it where the entire stands and race stewards could see. They’d do it at the far turn. It’s why there’s an “inquiry’ process in the first place.
    In this case, the jock kept saying (about Max Sec) ‘he’s a baby, he got scared’. In other words, the roar of the crowd caused Max to react by trying to get away from the sound and veer into W. of Will’s lane. ONLY by the grace of the racing stars did that horse not go down.
    Who to blame? Well, no one, really, save the horse, and you can’t do that. But knowing racing people like I do, I’m certain the jock will be blamed and may never be in the KD again. You could see from his face he was troubled..I think he knew he’d erred. Because the point is, he’s up there to keep the horse going straight and true. But as we all know, a human on the back of a horse can only do so much…if the horse is going to bolt or shy, he’s going to and there’s not much you can do to stop it. Unless you know it in advance…and sometimes we DO, and sometimes…it comes out of the blue.

    1. I’ve been reading up on this. Apparently, this drifting out into the lane has a name — “Angel Cordero-ed” because he used it so frequently. I don’t remember this happening, but I watched the replay of the 1980 Preakness and he drifted wide on Codex in the stretch, bumping Genuine Risk and hitting the filly in her face with his whip . . . I don’t think the move by MS’ jockey was intentional, looked more like he came around the turn and the horse was put off by the crowds, but who knows. I am really glad that WoW didn’t go down. That would have been the kiss of death for racing after those bad months at Santa Anita.

  3. I might be wrong…but in the Cordero race, the trainer was a guy named Woody Stevens. He had a reputation for being a real jerk, one who would surreptitiously cheat or otherwise throw a wrench into a race if he could. ESPECIALLY if a female was involved. back then there were few female trainers /riders around and he would let them know ‘women didn’t belong in the shed row.’

  4. And you’re right…if there’d been a dreadful, too horrible to contemplate wreck right there at the finish, that would have been the death knell of racing (not to mention riders and horses). Look what happened after Ruffian went down…you’ve not seen a match race since. Or when poor 8 Belles was attempting to walk on two broken front pasterns…the images still haunt me after all these years. No……….I don’t care what Max Sec’s owner/trainer whatever say-it was the right call and only superior riding on WoW’s rider (and let’s give the horse himself credit for pulling himself up) was there not a horrific mess.

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