HOME > HORSE RACING RADAR
Kentucky Derby Weekend: A Recap
MONDAY, MAY 6, 2019
by: Valerie Mellema
Horse racing's most excited weekend has come and gone with the rains that left a lot of fans wet and a little confused. This year's Kentucky Derby was certainly one for the history books, but not necessarily for the reason that most would want. Here's a look at the events that led to a controversial ending to the most anticipated weekend all year.
The 145th Running of the Kentucky Derby
Coming into the week, we were all surprised by the scratch of the favorite, OMAHA BEACH. The colt was scratched by Richard Mandella due to an entrapped epiglottis that was diagnosed after he came back to the barns coughing post workout. His spot in the starting gates was replaced by the longshot, BODEXPRESS. HAIKAL was also scratched a few days before the Derby due to an abscess, but his spot was not filled and left us with a 19 horse field coming into the Derby on Saturday.
With the field set, the Derby day started off in the typical manner with fans packing the grandstand, clubhouse, infield and all spots in between. As post time for the Derby drew near, so did the rain. The track had been fast throughout most of the day with rain and drizzle wetting the track off and on. Before the Derby, the track was sealed and the horses made their way from the barns to the paddock. At post time, GAME WINNER and MAXIMUM SECURITY were co-favorites. Both horses are owned by Gary and Mary West, but are trained by Bob Baffert and Jason Servis respectively. Of the 19 horses in the field, MAXIMUM SECURITY was the only horse to have run on a wet track, but also only had four starts prior to the Derby, having gone from a $16,000 claimer to the winner of the Florida Derby, the win that earned him the points needed for a post in the iconic race.
As the field broke from the gates, jockey Luis Saez went straight to the front of the pack with MAXIMUM SECURITY. He held the lead the entire race pressed by 65-1 COUNTRY HOUSE on the outside, LONG RANGE TODDY and WAR OF WILL just behind. As the field came around the turn, several horses went wide in an effort to make an outside bid at the frontrunners including GAME WINNER, who just couldn't overcome having been pushed to the back of the pack after the start. Coming up on the rail was the Japanese-bred horse MASTER FENCER, who made an impressive run from last to mid-pack.
However, just around the turn and into the stretch, MAXIMUM SECURITY came off the inside towards the center of the track, pushing COUNTRY HOUSE towards the outside slightly. You can see the colt's body arch as Saez works to straighten him on a loose rein. He finished at the wire a length and 3/4s ahead of COUNTRY HOUSE in second and TACITUS in third.
As the horses came back to the finish line after galloping out, fans were left waiting as they awaited the official results, only to found out that Flavien Prat, the jockey of Bill Mott's COUNTRY HOUSE had called foul. And this is where the controversy began.
After a 21 minute and 57 second wait, the Churchill Downs stewards reviewed the footage and declared COUNTRY HOUSE the winner of the 145th Kentucky Derby and disqualified MAXIMUM SECURITY for interference, putting him 17th behind LONG RANGE TODDY. We later found out that Jon Court, the jockey of LONG RANGE TODDY also lodged an objection.
The official statement from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission steward, Barbara Borden, stated: "The riders of 18 (LONG RANGE TODDY) and 20 (COUNTRY HOUSE) lodged objections against the seven horse, the winner, alleging interference turning from home leaving the quarter pole. We had a lengthy review of the race, interviewed affected riders, and determined that the seven-horse drifted out and impacted number 1 (WAR OF WILL) who in turn interfered with the 18 and 21 (BODEXPRESS). Those horses were all affected. Therefore, we unanimously determined to disqualify number 7 and place him behind 18. That is our typical procedure."
With this information, many have asked why Mark Casse, trainer of WAR OF WILL, who was impacted the most by MAXIMUM SECURITY, did not lodge an objection. Casse has responded stating, "You have to remember... we're only seeing a little bit of (the race live). I didn't realize what happened. Tyler came back and said, 'I almost went down' and I said to him 'It's not worth it. We were (eighth).' If we had finished fourth or third or second, we would have been claiming foul in an instant. Was it unfortunate? Absolutely. But you realize... if I claim foul, it ruins the biggest accomplishment in (Servis') life and the only thing that's going to do is move me up to sixth. Would you claim foul? No. Should Tyler have claimed foul? No. I stand by that."
As of this morning, it is unclear whether or not COUNTRY HOUSE will be headed to the Preakness, but according to trainer Bill Mott, "It's like, if you don't, you've got no balls, and what's wrong with the horse, and how can you not go to the Preakness? That's all part of it. You have an obligation to go. Everyone wants to see the Derby winner in the Preakness."
As for MAXIMUM SECURITY, owner Gary West told NBC's Today Show that he will not run in the Preakness and that he will be filing an appeal Monday to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission regarding the stewards' decision. He acknowledged that the language states that all decisions shall be final, but he feels it's something big enough that they deserve the opportunity to know what is going on and was shocked at the lack of transparency of the stewards.
The Kentucky Oaks
The Kentucky Oaks also had a disqualification due to an incident at the start of the race. As the 14 fillies broke from the gates, POSITIVE SPIRIT in the 6 post was squeezed between FLOR DE LA MAR and JAYWALK in the 5 and 7 posts. Clipping heels with JAYWALK, the filly stumbled, but quickly got back to her feet. She suffered a soft tissue injury and skin lacerations, but was able to walk back to the barn without issue.
JAYWALKPOSITIVE SPIRIT. Meanwhile, SERENGETTI PRINCESS took the lead and never looked back. She won the 1 1/8th Kentucky Oaks followed by LIORA and LADY APPLE.
Pat Day Mile
While trainer Bret Calhoun didn't get the Derby win he'd hoped for with BY MY STANDARDS, he did come back a winner with MR MONEY in the Pat Day Mile. Stalking Texas-bred MR MONEY BAGS, who set fractions of :22.21 and :45.42 through the first half mile, he was able to move between MANNY WAH and DUNPH and take control at the top of the lane. He kicked home and took the win by 5 1/4 lengths with a final time of 1:35.21. HOG CREEK HUSTLE and took second 2 1/2 lengths ahead of DREAM MAKER in third. This was the colt's first stakes win after suffering several setbacks prior to this race.
Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes
With the rain lightly falling on a good turf course, the five-year-old BRICKS AND MORTAR proved his talent for trainer Chad Brown yet again. MARKITOFF set the pace while Irad Ortiz held BRICKS AND MORTAR near the back. As CLYDE'S IMAGE and QURBAAN made a move, BRICKS AND MORTAR split between them and ran them down by a half a length to take the win. QURBAAN finished second with CLYDE'S IMAGE following behind.
American Turf Stakes
Irad Ortiz put in another good trip on the undefeated DIGITAL AGE in the American Turf Stakes, another race part of the Kentucky Derby undercard.
The pair settled along the inside near the rear as A THREAD OF BLUE and MARQUEE PRINCE led the field. By the three-eigths pole, the leaders held strong, but as they rounded the turn, SOCIAL PARANOIA joined in and MARQUEE PRINCE faded. Moving off the rail, to the center of the course, DIGITAL AGE made up ground and kicked on to take the win with a final time of 1:44.63.
Have a great week!
<< RETURN TO GUARANTEED TIP SHEET HOMEPAGE