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Country House declared winner of 145th Kentucky Derby following disqualification of Maximum Security

By Mark Hansel
KyForward managing editor

For the first time in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby, the horse that crossed the finish line first was not declared the winner.

Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez (pink silks) cross the finish line ahead of Country House and Flavien Prat (yellow silks). Maximum Security was taken down for interference and placed 17th.

Country House finished second, but was moved up when it was determined that Maximum Security, which finished ahead of him, interfered with several horses.

Jockey Luis Saez sent Maximum Security right to the lead in the field of 19, set a fast early pace and withstood several challenges to cross the finish line ahead of Country House, a 65-1 longshot.

As Saez was headed back to the winner’s circle, however, it was announced that jockey Flavien Prat, the rider of Country House had lodged an objection against the apparent race winner.

Jockey John Court, rider of Long Range Toddy, also lodged a claim of foul.

Long Range Toddy finished 16th.

The stewards viewed replays of the race from several angles, for what must have seemed an eternity to the connections of the horses and the fans in attendance, but was estimated at 22 minutes.

Jockey Flavien Prat leads Country House into the winner’s circle after the horse was declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby following the disqualification of Maximum Security (photos by Mark Hansel).

Ultimately, the stewards determined that Maximum Security interfered with Country House, Long Range Toddy and No. 1 horse War of Will, and disqualified him to the 17th position.

Country House, trained by Bill Mott, was elevated to the victory in the $3 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) before a crowd of 150,729.

Mrs. J.V. Shields Jr., E.J.M. McFadden Jr. and LNJ Foxwoods’ Country House became the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby by disqualification .

Prior to the disqualification, Mott said he thought Maximum Security committed a foul.

“If it were a maiden 10 claimer, he would come down,” Mott said. “You’re supposed to keep a straight line when you’re riding and there shouldn’t be a difference between a maiden 10k and the Kentucky Derby. It’s not supposed to matter between the two.”

Jockey Luis Saez declined to comment after speaking with stewards at the conclusion of the 145th Kentucky Derby Saturday. Saez’s mount, Maximum Security, was disqualified and placed 17th after crossing the finish line first.

In describing his ride, Prat, said Country House broke well and put him in the right spot.

“He was cruising the whole way, Prat said. “I was closer than I thought I would be and then when we hit the final turn, he was just dragging me. I moved him out and made a nice move at the quarter pole. Then, that horse (Maximum Security) just drifted out, kind of turned me sideways, and there were two horses inside of us. After that, I straightened up, he made a good move and that was it.”

While Prat’s objection triggered the initial stewards’ review, Mott said he didn’t think the impact to his horse necessarily warranted a disqualification.

“My horses didn’t get bothered terribly,” Mott said. “Country House got bumped just a little bit, but there were a couple jocks who almost went down in there. I know what I naturally would like to happen, but I have no control over it at this point. There’s over 100,000 people here and (the stewards) don’t want to make that call, but it’s their duty to do the right thing and I hope they do.”

Prat also indicated that he lodged the claim of foul because of the impact to other horses.

Country House jockey Flavien Prat awaits the decision of the stewards following the running of the 145th Kentucky Derby.

“It slightly bothered us, but it also bothered the two horses inside of us which is why I thought they should look at it,” Pratt said.

Mott and Prat got their wish, but the decision appeared to be an unpopular one among many fans in attendance, thousands of which booed lustily following the announcement.

Jason Servis, the trainer of Maximum Security, said he didn’t think the incident changed the outcome of the race.

“It looks like something scared him in the infield, but I haven’t been able to watch it that close,” Servis said. “I feel bad for the owners, (Gary and Mary West). It looked like he ducked out a little bit. “It’s (the disqualification) tough – it hasn’t sunk in yet, but it will.”

War of Will, which finished seventh appeared the most directly impacted by Maximum Security’s actions, but jockey Tyler Gaffalione did not lodge a claim of foul.

War of Will was forwardly placed, but bottled up on the rail for much of the race, as Gaffalione had a snug hold and his feet in the dashboard to keep the horse from running up on the heels of other horses.

Leaving the far turn, War of Will angled out and appeared to have a clear run, when Maximum Security drifted wide and Gaffalione took up sharply. The stewards determined the chain reaction caused Country House to shift out and Long Range Toddy to take up and plummet to the rear of the field.

Trainer Bill Mott breaks into a smile when it is announced that Country House was declared the winner of the 145th Kentucky Derby following the disqualification of Maximum Security

“I really thought I was going to win the Derby,” Gaffalione said. “I checked pretty hard when the seven (Maximum Security) came out as far as he did.”

While the leaders were battling with each other, Code of Honor, ridden by John Velasquez, cut the corner and appeared to take a brief lead.

Maximum Security kicked on again, however, and drew clear to cross the finish line 1 3⁄4 lengths ahead of Country House.

Rain had been forecast for several days, but held off for much of the day and it appeared the racing gods may have been smiling on Churchill Downs.

About an hour before the Kentucky Derby, however, a strong storm moved through and changed the track condition from fast to sloppy.

Mott said the condition of the track might have impacted how the race was run.

“I wish they would have left the track sealed because they get more kickback when they leave it like this,” Mott said.

Maximum Security is led around the race track as his connections wait to find out the results of an objection. He was ultimately disqualified from the win and placed 17th.

Initially, it appeared that the objection might not be allowed.

When Saez got off the phone with the stewards, however, he looked crestfallen and as the review dragged on it was clear a disqualification was being strongly considered.

Following the conclusion of the day’s live race card, Chief Steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Barbara Borden read a statement, explaining the decision to disqualify Maximum Security:

“The riders of the 18 (Long Range Toddy) and 20 (Country House) horses in the Kentucky Derby lodged objections against the 7 (Maximum Security) horse, the winner, due to interference turning for home, leaving the quarter pole,” said Barbara Borden, Chief Steward for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Racing Stewards (l to r ;Brooks “Butch” Becraft, Barbara Borden, Tyler Picklesimer) addressed the media following the decision to disqualify Maximum Security as the winner of Kentucky Derby 145 Saturday.
Borden read from a prepared statement and declined to answer questions.

“We (Barbara Borden, State Steward Brooks “Butch” Becraft and Churchill Downs-appointed Association Steward Tyler Picklesimer) had a lengthy review of the race. We interviewed affected riders. We determined that the 7 horse drifted out and impacted the progress of Number 1 (War of Will), in turn, interfering with the 18 and 21 (Bodexpress). Those horses were all affected, we thought, by the interference.
“Therefore, we unanimously determined to disqualify Number 7 and place him behind the 18 (in 17th position), the 18 being the lowest-placed horse that he bothered, which is our typical procedure.”

Borden declined to answer questions, which drew the ire of some media members, who wanted a more detailed explanation.

Mott said the decision was bittersweet.and that he’d be lying if he said it was not.

“You say you always want to win with a clean trip and everyone recognize the horse as the great athlete he is and due to the DQ some of that is diminished,” Mott said. “Two horses lost all chance to win a Kentucky Derby and they were in a position at the time to hit the board. I know the stewards had a very difficult decision. With that being said, I’m damn glad they put our number up.”

The connections of Country House address the media following the horse’s win in Kentucky Derby 145 Saturday.

Country House returned $132.40, $56.60 and $24.60. Code of Honor returned $15.20 and $9.80 and finished three-quarters of a length in front of Tacitus who paid $5.60 to show under Jose Ortiz.

Country House’s win mutuel was the second highest in Derby history behind only Donerail in 1913 ($184.90).

The victory was worth $1,860,000 and increased the winner’s earnings to $2,120,175 with a record of 7-2-2-1. Country House is a Kentucky-bred son of Lookin At Lucky out of the War Chant mare Quake Lake.

Completing the field in order were Improbable, Game Winner, Master Fencer (JPN), War of Will, Plus Que Parfait, Win Win Win, Cutting Humor, By My Standards, Vekoma, Bodexpress, Tax, Roadster, Long Range Toddy, Maximum Security, Spinoff and Gray Magician.

The race was run in 2:03.93 over the sloppy track.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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