The Kentucky Derby ended up being a real cliffhanger over the May 4 weekend. The horse, Maximum Security, that seemed to win it fair and square, was suddenly stripped of its title in front of more than 150,000 onlookers.
After about 20 minutes, another horse, Country House, was named winner, and Maximum Security fell to 17th place.
This is the first time in the 145 years of Kentucky Derby history that the winner of the race was stripped of its title.
The horse that ended up winning originally had 65-to-1 odds, and a $2 bet earned $132.
This is another serious blow to the sport of horse racing which already had a few recent historic demerits to its reputation, including a series of horses dying.
But, in the case of the most famous horse race of the year, the disputed win is a historic black eye. The race was contested by another rider, and the referees reviewed footage of the race, and came to a unanimous conclusion.
The decision let to a national debate and controversy. Even Donald Trump weighed in and Tweeted that the best horse didn’t win, even though the disqualification followed the rules of horseracing.
Horse racing is one of the Sportamix events that a trainer, coach and athlete can list in their profile on the website, and find others like-minded in their love for the sport.
The controversial decision came as fans and experts alike wondered if the entire race should just be re-done. Video footage shows that the horses became close in the mud and rain during the race.
The rules say that the horses have to stay in their lanes and clearly, Maximum Security didn’t.
Country House is a horse with long odds to win the Derby when getting into the race at the beginning. In fact, this horse was the second-longest shot in the history of the Derby.
It continues to remain possible that Gary West, the owner of the horse, Maximum Security, could protest being stripped of the title to the Kentucky Horse Racing Association, or even file a lawsuit.
Trump’s misspelled Tweet said: “The Kentuky [sic] Derby decision was not a good one. It was a rough and tumble race on a wet and sloppy tack, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby – not even close!”
Of course, that’s for people who don’t play by the rules, and the rules say that a horse has to stay in the same path without impeding anyone else.
Although it’s clear that Maximum Security ran a good race, it’s also clear that the horse invaded the space of other horses, and the stewards had to make a decision.
None of the experts are blaming the jockey of the horse, Luis Saez, for the horse straying out of the lane. It’s apparent that weather conditions made it hard for the horse to run straight.
The rider of Country House, Flavien Pratt, was the runner-up of the race who came in 2-1/2 lengths behind Maximum Security. Pratt complained that the horse had interfered with Long Range Toddy and War of Will as well in the race.
So, Maximum Security was not given second place in the race, but was placed at 17th for interfering.
Horse racing has fallen from being the top spectator sport, as it was in the 1950s. In a Gallup poll recently, the sport ranked below fishing and bowling.
Problems with the animal rights community and with a series of recent horse deaths have led to a decline in interest in the sport.
In Southern California alone, 23 horse deaths in the span of three months ended in the closing of Santa Anita Race Track and a call to end the sport all together there.