Kentucky Derby Controversy May Actually Be Good for Racing

Kentucky Derby Controversy May Actually Be Good for Racing

Every year the racing world welcomes back fans that only tune in once a year, on the first Saturday in May. Once the Kentucky Derby is run, we say goodbye to them for the next 12 months and that’s simply the way it goes.

Not this year. This year has seemingly everyone still engaged in Derby 145 as a result of the biggest disqualification in horse racing history in America’s biggest race.

As you’ve likely seen, heard, read, seen again in slow motion, Maximum Security was disqualified from a first place for drifting out as he straightened out for the finish line with a quarter of a mile left. He contacted War of Will, who somehow stayed on his feet. It was a shock to the horse racing betting world too.

I am also sure you have voiced your take on it to friends and family and heard many more opinions in return. I think this is all great. The fact that we are keeping people engaged in this can only lead to engaging more people in this sport and keeping them wanting to see what’s next with Maximum Security.

The Kentucky Derby Stewards Got It Right

When it comes to human judgment calls in sport there will never be a consensus agreement, that’s just human nature. The argument on whether the Kentucky Stewards made the right call will be asked for the remainder of time. I think they did make the correct call.

The rules of racing in the United States are pretty straight forward when it comes to this situation, you cannot impact another horse’s ability to a fair run by making significant contact with that or any horse. Maximum Security clearly did just that.

The one thing that bothers me in this discussion is the argument that there has never been a disqualification in the Kentucky Derby before. Why does this matter in the “now?” How can that be productive to simply overlook mistakes that are occurring in the present because past mistakes had been? So many relevant voices in this sport have expressed the same sentiment.

They Did Get Something Wrong Though

The fact that the Kentucky Stewards provided a statement on the matter was nice, but not taking questions was a mistake.

If you are a professional steward that is judging this sport on its highest level, you most certainly can navigate any question that any member of the media may throw at you. All the public wants is transparency. All we want is the ability to question authority. That’s such a big part of modern society and will continue to be.

The fact that in this enormous situation that freedom was not afforded. Whoever decided to not allow for this needs to seriously rethink and learn from this mistake the next time such an occasion arises, even if it takes another 145 years to find ourselves in this situation again.

What Could Jockey Luis Saez Have Done Differently?

Nothing. Literally nothing. Speaking to the most respected jockeys that have decades worth of riding in the Kentucky Derby have expressed the foul Maximum Security committed was not due to jockey Luis Saez urging him into committing the foul.

He corrected his horse as quickly as he could but at that point the damage was done. Anyone blaming Saez simply is inexperienced in watching a horse race.

Let’s Not Mistake Who Is Top 3-Year-Old

It’s Maximum Security. He’s the front runner of the division and will continue to be even after the Preakness and Belmont Stakes are run. Every other 3-year-old colt or gelding have a lot to prove versus Maximum Security.

It’s unfortunate that we will not see either Country House , the Derby winner, or Maximum Security in the Preakness, but they are on a collision course to meet this summer.

Just imagine the mainstream headlines racing will receive when the meet in either the Haskell in July or the Travers in August, or hopefully both creating a best of three series. Monmouth Park and Saratoga need to make this happen, the locations of the Haskell and Travers.

Racing needs to capitalize on it and the sporting public deserves it.