The fastest two minutes in sports turned into the longest 22 minutes of waiting for an official result after an objection call by two jockeys caused the stewards to overturn the initial decision and crown Country House the Kentucky Derby champion.
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For the first time in the race’s 145-year history, the horse that crossed the finish line first at Churchill Downs was disqualified for interference.
Flavien Prat, the jockey of the 65-to-1 long shot, spoke to “Good Morning America” about the incident from Saturday’s race.
“I made an objection because when I made my move around the [final] turn I thought I was pushed out from the inside and so as we crossed the finish line and I pulled up my horse, I was waiting to see if there was any inquiry because I thought it was a pretty wide movement,” Prat explained. “And nothing happened — so I decided the steward should take a look at it.”
“Another rider actually did the same as I did and they decided that it didn’t interfere enough with me, but he [Maximum Security] actually caused a lot of damage with other horses, so I think that’s why they changed the results,” he said.
Kentucky Horse Racing Commission chief steward Barbara Borden said the riders of Long Range Toddy and Country House both lodged objections against the champion horse and argued he should be disqualified.
ESPN horse racing expert and host of “In The Gate” podcast Barry Abrams explained to ABC News that during the final turn, the undefeated favorite, Maximum Security, shifted to his right, out of his lane, and interfered with a nearby horse.
“There was clearly interference here,” he said. “If there is any interference that in any way affects the outcome the offending horse has to be taken down.”
“Maximum Security’s rear heels come very close if not actually clipping the front heels of War of Will,” he added.
Barry Abrams, host/producer of ESPN’s “In The Gate” podcast, appears on ABC’s World News Tonight to help explain the disqualification in the Kentucky Derby. https://t.co/IcxqU3K4Op
— Barry Abrams (@BAbramsVoice) May 5, 2019
Prat, 26, said he has been on the other side of a disqualification in his career.
“It happened to me before [when] my horse or I did something wrong and I got a DQ [disqualification] for that so, you know, it’s part of the ruling and you’ve got to accept that,” he said.
Prat’s agent, Derek Lawson, who has been in horse racing for over 30 years, told “GMA” he did not think the move by Maximum Security or his mount Luis Saez was intentional “at all.”
“I believe that the horse may have been spooked by the loud noise from the crowd. He actually was switching leads and he might have just f—– up. But there was no intention, negative intention by the rider,” he said.
Country House became the second-biggest long shot ever to win in the run for the roses.
Lawson also said this controversial ruling was ultimately good for the sport.
“Well it shows that the sport is well governed by the racing officials, that they made a very tough decision and in one of the largest and the biggest race in the United States,” he said. “It shows that we can step up and make tough decisions in races that affect the outcome.”