No story dominated American racing for 2019 like the Kentucky Derby. Whether you agreed or disagreed, won or lost, you certainly had an opinion about the 145th running of the world’s most famous horse race.
It all went down May 4 at Churchill Downs, the first Saturday in May that will always be remembered for the first disqualification for an incident during the running of the race. Maximum Security crossed the wire first, his connections waited out a lengthy inquiry for a bumping incident approaching the top of the stretch and eventually saw the colt’s number taken down.
Stewards placed the son of New Year’s Day 17th for his alleged role in the incident, costing owners and breeders Gary and Mary West, trainer Jason Servis and jockey Luis Saez the most coveted prize in American racing. Country House was elevated from his runner-up position to the victory, setting off a wild scene at Churchill ranging from raucous applause to deep-throated boos.
Tom Law’s piece titled “House Horse: Mott wins Kentucky Derby,” set the scene primarily from Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s perspective.
“High above the spot where Mott and the media stood, stewards reviewed an incident near the top of the stretch that could lead to the first disqualification of the winner in America’s most famous horse race,” Tom wrote. “The review, as the world knows now, involved Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez veering to the right turning for home and impeding several rivals.”
Mott later summed up the scene in a way only he could, saying, “...if it was a maiden-claimer on a weekday the winner would come down. It’s not supposed to matter, the Kentucky Derby or whatever it is. There are a couple riders that nearly clipped heels and went down. I’m going to wait and let the stewards decide that. I know what I naturally would like to happen but I have no control over it at this point. I’m just a bystander as you are right now. Believe me there are over 100,000 people here and I know they don’t want to have to make that call. The stewards are probably wishing they didn’t have to make that decision right now, but it’s their duty to do the right thing and I hope they do.
‘I’m proud of my horses, I was second and fourth, they ran well,’ Mott said. ‘Country House ran a great race. It’s up to the stewards now. I think the stewards will take a good look at it and decide … When you’re in racing you get both sides … sometimes it works out for you and sometimes it works against you. You just never know for sure … Makes for an interesting day.’
The story, posted May 6, is the sixth month read piece of 2019 at This Is Horse Racing.
Check out the rest of the TIHR Top 10 for 2019:
No. 7: Wicklow Brave