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The 2019 Kentucky Derby: One For The History Books

Mary Meldrum

The 2019 Kentucky Derby became a rascal of a race on Saturday, May 4 as favorites and winners stepped aside to finally make way for a 65-1 contestant, Country House, who ran into the spotlight as Maximum Security (9-2 odds) — who crossed the line first — was disqualified.

What Happened

In a turbulent and emotional finish, and certainly a first for the 145-year-old derby, at the Churchill Downs, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHDN)-owned track in Louisville, winning horse Maximum Security was disqualified for an in-race violation.

Stepping out of his path, Maximum Security drifted into the path of War of Will, creating a cascade of movement and erasing the chances of several horses in the back of the pack from moving up in the ranks and winning the race of their lifetime, according to ESPN

Why It's Important

In the end, riders on Country House and Long Range Toddy lodged objections to the ride, naming Maximum Security as interfering in the chances of several horses in the back of the pack from moving up.

After much reflection, in a unanimous decision, stewards awarded Maximum Security 17th place behind Long Range Toddy, and the winning purse of $3 million went to Country House.

In a smaller, less significant race, the decision would have been made faster, ESPN said, but the run for the roses has a lot at stake for all those involved, and any decision to disqualify a racer is obviously met with a lot of scrutiny.

What's Next

Don't expect the Derby controversy to go away any time soon.

Gary West, who owns Maximum Security with his wife, Mary, said he'd file an appeal Monday and said the horse will not run in the Preakness Stakes, according to USA Today.

Country House owner Bill Mott discussed how difficult the decision was for the stewards to take a horse down in the Derby.

"I think it was their obligation to make the right call, and I would have to say that they did. They will be talking about this for years," he told the Louisville Courier Journal

War of Will jockey Tyler Gaffalione told ESPN he thought he'd win the race. 

"I checked pretty hard when [Maximum Security] came out as far as he did." 

Related Links: 

2019 Kentucky Derby Preview: Why Maximum Security Is More Than Just A Name

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Photo by Dustin Blitchok. 

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