ShareThis Page
Long shot Country House wins Kentucky Derby after favorite is DQ’ed | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

Long shot Country House wins Kentucky Derby after favorite is DQ’ed

Associated Press
1115411_web1_1146992030
Getty Images
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 04: Country House (No. 20), ridden by jockey Flavien Prat, War of Will (1), ridden by jockey Tyler Gaffalione , Maximum Security (7), ridden by jockey Luis Saez and Code of Honor (13), ridden by jockey John Velazquez fight for position in the final turn during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 04, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky.
1115411_web1_1146995308
Getty Images
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 04: Jockey Flavien Prat and trainer Bill Mott of Country House #20 celebrate with the trophy after winning the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 04, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
1115411_web1_1115411-5417e2773df24efcafed5de1093e45f2
AP
Flavien Prat rides Country House to the finish line during the 145th Kentucky Derby.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Maximum Security led the Kentucky Derby every step of the way except for the last one — into the winner’s circle.

The colt became the first winner disqualified for interference in the Derby’s 145-year history, leading to an agonizing wait and an eventual stunning reversal that made 65-1 shot Country House the winner Saturday.

Country House finished second in the slop before objections were raised, causing a 20-minute delay while stewards repeatedly reviewed several angles of video footage before he was elevated into the winner’s circle.

That gave Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott his first Derby victory at age 65.

“It’s bittersweet. You always want to win with a clean trip and have everybody recognize the horse as the very good horse and great athlete that he is,” Mott said. “Due to the disqualification, I think some of that is diminished.”

Jockey Flavien Prat, who originated the claim of foul, also won his first Derby.

“I’m kind of speechless right now,” Prat said, letting out a long sigh.

Country House paid $132.40 to win — the second-highest payout in the Derby’s 145-year history.

“Looking at the tote board there’s probably a lot of people that didn’t think we could win,” Mott said, “but that’s horse racing.”

Country House was dismissed as a long shot with a bad post on the far outside. It was only the chestnut colt’s second win in seven career starts and his first stakes victory.

Maybe this was one for his father: Lookin At Lucky got saddled with the dreaded No. 1 post in the 2010 Derby, where he got pinned to the rail and wound up sixth. He rebounded to win the Preakness two weeks later.

The disqualification was a crushing turn of events for Maximum Security trainer Jason Servis and jockey Luis Saez, who already had begun celebrating what they thought were their first Derby victories.

Instead, previously undefeated Maximum Security was dropped to 17th of 19 horses. Sent off as the 9-2 second choice, Maximum Security was placed behind all the horses that he bothered.

“I never put anybody in danger,” Saez said.

Servis backed up his jockey, saying: “He’s right. He straightened him up right away and I didn’t think it affects the outcome of the race.”

Prat claimed Maximum Security ducked out in the final turn and forced several horses to steady, including Long Range Toddy, whose jockey, Jon Court, also lodged an objection. War of Will came perilously close to clipping heels with Maximum Security, which could have caused a chain-reaction accident.

“There were two horses in the race that lost all chance to win a Kentucky Derby,” Mott said. “They were in position at the time to hit the board. If what happened to us was the only thing they were looking at I don’t think you would have seen a disqualification.”

Mott said the incident was caused by Maximum Security’s action and not Saez’s riding tactics.

“I don’t think Luis Saez did anything intentionally,” the trainer said. “My heart actually aches for them a little bit. That’s the way it is. I’ve been on the other end of it, just not in the Kentucky Derby.”

The stewards reviewed race footage while keeping the crowd of 150,729 and millions more watching on television and online in suspense, clutching their betting tickets. Trainers and jockeys involved stared at the closest video screen waiting for a result.

“I know the stewards had a very, very difficult decision,” Mott said. “I’m damn glad they put our number up.”

Code of Honor was moved up to second and Tacitus — also trained by Mott — was third.

Improbable was fourth and Game Winner fifth, two of trainer Bob Baffert’s trio of entries. His other horse, Roadster, was 15th.

The last claim of foul by a jockey in the Derby was unsuccessful. John Velazquez, aboard runner-up Invisible Ink in 2001, alleged interference at the quarter pole against Monarchos and Jorge Chavez, who crossed the finish line 4¾ lengths in front. The stewards didn’t change the result.

The only other disqualification in the Derby occurred long after the race in 1968. Dancer’s Image, the first-place finisher, tested positive for a prohibited medication, and Kentucky state racing officials ordered the purse money to be redistributed. Forward Pass got the winner’s share. A subsequent court challenge upheld the stewards’ decision.

Country House wore the garland of red roses, but it’s possible the situation doesn’t end here. There could be appeals to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission or the courts.

“That’s a nightmare. It’s a no-win situation for anybody involved,” said Mott, who spoke with Servis after the reversal. “I didn’t get a hint of that from him. He’s been around long enough, and I’m sure he watched the films well enough. He knows what happened.”

The surprising flip threw a few bettors into a frenzy, too. Some who had wagered on Country House to win immediately tossed away their tickets at the finish, only to then scramble to the ground at Churchill Downs, frantically searching for their betting slips.

Categories: Sports | US-World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.