Forgettable Derby Will Be Long Remembered

Trump slams stewards' decision to overturn result

The horse that crossed the finish line first at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, favourite Maximum Security, was disqualified for interfering with other horses after stewards ruled that Maximum Security left his lane and cut off another horse.

The victory was ultimately given to race longshot Country House, the horse that crossed the finish line second.

Donald Trump said the stipes decision was ‘political correctness’

President Donald Trump attributed this historic overturn to “political correctness.”

“The Kentuky (sic) Derby decision was not a good one,” Trump said in a Sunday morning tweet. “It was a rough and tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, 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!”

USA Today reports that perhaps the most amazing part of horse racing’s decline into relative obscurity among major American sports is that it manages to still pack 150 000 people into Churchill Downs every year for the world’s biggest party on the first Saturday in May.

It happens rain or shine, no matter how much they jack up ticket prices, regardless of how many $15 mint juleps it takes to get a comfortable buzz.

And it only grows like that year after year apart from the sport’s typical sinkage for one reason — the Kentucky Derby is special.

It’s less special today.

Every now and then, the best horse in the Derby doesn’t win. It should never be robbed.

Country House team after the decision (Pic – Kentucky Derby)

The history books will say that long shot Country House was the 145th Kentucky Derby winner on Saturday. But anyone who watched and remembers the race years from now will know that Country House was little more than the recipient of an egregious decision by the racing stewards at Churchill Downs, who disqualified the horse that finished under the wire first and was much the best running 1-1/4 miles around the famed oval.

That horse was Maximum Security, and now he’s the poster boy of the biggest controversy in the history of American horse racing — an outcome horse racing didn’t need amidst a months-long public relations debacle resulting from 23 horse fatalities in California over the winter, and, frankly, wasn’t warranted under the circumstances of the race.

Then, about 2 1/2 hours after the race, the three people who made that decision didn’t even bother to defend it. Instead, they chose the gutless route by reading a prepared statement in the media center at Churchill Downs and refusing to answer questions about the biggest overturned result in the history of the sport.

“They’ll be talking about the result of this race from now until they run the next Kentucky Derby and the next 10 Kentucky Derbys and the next 20 Kentucky Derbys,” said Bill Mott, the trainer of Country House. “There’s always a lot of controversy in this sport, and we’re probably going to be involved in it from now on, but you know, I’m going to take it.”

Don’t blame Mott for thinking that justice was done by taking down Maximum Security and placing him 17th due to an incident halfway around the final turn that compromised the chances of the two horses who were racing between Maximum Security and Country House. Mott, like every trainer who has been successful in this business, has been on both sides of these situations dozens of times. For him, it’s just part of the business.

But there’s a reason the Derby, which is always a roughly run race with plenty of bumping and jostling throughout, has never had a winner disqualified due to interference: Unless the foul was egregious enough to clearly change the result, the horse that finished first under the wire should stand.

That standard wasn’t met on Saturday. Not by a wide margin.

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