The Kentucky Derby is a hard race. There are up to twenty horses coming out of two starting gates and a crowd of over 150,000 cheering them on. This is unlike anything any of these horses has ever seen. On top of this, these horses are still young and learning.
The 145th Kentucky Derby will forever go down as the first Kentucky Derby where the winner was disqualified. When it happened, some people were outraged and others were understanding.
The bottom line is that Maximum Security DID interfere with horses when he veered off of the turn. Do I think this was an intentional move by Luis Saez? No. I think that he was telling nothing but the truth when he said that his horse spooked. However, there is absolutely no denying that Maximum Security could have caused a huge disaster.
Amazingly, War of Will was able to stay up when Maximum Security veered out in front of him. Long Range Toddy too was able to avoid an accident. In my opinion, these were the two horses whose chances of winning were ruined at the far turn. Had either of these horses gone down, they likely would have taken down the horses behind them too. An incident of this magnitude on the biggest day of the year in horse racing would have put irreparable damage on a sport that has already taken a beating earlier in the year.
Country House put in an amazing run and the fact that he was even able to finish second at odds of 65-1 is mind-blowing. I do think Country House was influenced by Maximum Security’s veering, but I do not think it was on a level that would have stopped him from winning the Kentucky Derby.
Maximum Security was the best horse yesterday, but allowing something so dangerous to be pushed away would make our sport look bad. The safety of twenty horses could have been compromised when Maximum Security veered out. In any other lower level race, he would have been disqualified with much less time for arguments. He was the best horse and technically the winner of the Kentucky Derby, but he had to be disqualified in the name of the sport.
In conclusion, the safety of these equine athletes comes above all else - even the Kentucky Derby. It is a miracle that no one was injured coming around the far turn. It is even better that no horse came back after the race with an injury. Maximum Security won the Kentucky Derby and my heart hurts for all of his fans and his connections. It was no one’s fault that he veered out - that is horse racing. However, leaving him on top after almost causing an accident simply could not be done.
Country House did not technically win the Kentucky Derby. He was benefited from something that hardly impacted him. He was at the right place at the right time to become the winner. No horse and no person should be hated for what transpired at Churchill Downs yesterday.
There was an interference, even though it was not intentional. The best horse was not in the winners' circle on Saturday, but safety comes first - even in the Kentucky Derby.
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