Kentucky – Longshot Country House crossed the finish line second at the Kentucky Derby on Saturday but was declared the winner after second-favorite Maximum Security was disqualified for interference.
It was the first time a Derby winner was disqualified because of a foul on the track. In 1968, Dancer’s Image won but failed a drug test and was disqualified.
“(Country House) was traveling well the entire race. Once I got him outside and I started to make my move, Maximum Security kind of drifted out and kind of turned us sideways,” winning jockey Flavien Prat told reporters.
He said the two horses — War of Will and Long Range Toddy — between them had more trouble but his horse felt the effect of Maximum Security’s move. He said he filed an objection with the stewards.
Chief steward Barbara Borden read a statement to the media but took no questions. She said jockey Jon Court, aboard Long Range Toddy, also objected.
After interviewing jockeys and watching video for nearly 20 minutes, all three stewards agreed to penalize Maximum Security.
“I know the stewards had a very, very difficult decision and I’m glad I wasn’t in their shoes,” said trainer Bill Mott, who got his first Kentucky Derby win.
Country House had 65-to-1 odds. Saturday’s win was his first stakes race.
Code of Honor moved to second while Tacitus was listed third finisher.
“This was my dream. I just feel so glad,” Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez had told NBC after the apparent victory.
Saez said the horse had a good race until he got to final turn before the home stretch and the noise of the crowd of 150,729 fans unnerved the horse.
“He started getting a little bit scared,” Saez said. “But then I grabbed him and I controlled him. And I kept fighting because I know he’s a real fighter.”
It was there that Maximum Security, who had led most of the race, appeared to almost make contact with another horse.
“Following the stewards review Maximum Security was disqualified from first and placed seventeenth for veering out and stacking up War of Will, Long Range Toddy, and Bodexpress,” the chart of the race posted on Equibase.com says.
War of Will finished in eighth (moved to seventh), Bodexpress was 14th (13th) and Long Range Toddy faded to 17th (16th).
Mott didn’t blame Saez, theorizing the horse drifted out on his own due to its inexperience.
There were 19 horses in the field on a rainy day. The track conditions were listed as sloppy.
The next race in the Triple Crown series is May 18 — the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York, is June 8 at Belmont Park.