Luis Saez riding Maximum Security, second from right, goes around turn four with Flavien Prat riding Country House, left, Tyler Gaffalione riding War of Will and John Velazquez riding Code of Honor, right, during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Controversial finish at Kentucky Derby sparks debate in U.S., Canadian racing

Victory was overturned 22 minutes later when stewards disqualified Maximum Security for interference

A prominent voice in Canadian horse racing says the wild finish at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby has “opened up the debate” about how the sport is governed in the U.S. and Canada.

Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson says the controversial result may have played out differently if North American racing authorities were to follow an approach that’s been adopted in almost every other country.

Lawson, who sits on the executive committee of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, says race stewards ruled correctly when they disqualified Maximum Security for impeding the path of another horse.

The 9-2 second choice initially appeared to have backed up his undefeated record with a 1 3/4-length victory over Country House on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs.

READ MORE: 65-1 longshot Country House wins Kentucky Derby after Maximum Security DQ’d

However, the victory was overturned 22 minutes later when stewards disqualified Maximum Security due to interference, bumping him down to 17th place and elevating Country House to the winner’s circle.

Lawson says in most countries, Maximum Security’s victory would likely have been upheld because officials have more discretion to determine where each horse would have finished had the interference not occurred.

“If the stewards say, ‘No, the best horse won’ — then they leave it,” Lawson said in a phone interview Sunday, referring to countries that follow what the IFHA refers to as “Category 1” rules for interference.

Under so-called “Category 2” rules, however, officials have no such discretion — if a horse is determined to have interfered, it is placed behind the horse that suffered the interference, regardless of what would have been the outcome had there been no interference.

In the case of Saturday’s Derby, Maximum Security was determined to have bothered all but two of the other horses in the race, dropping him into 17th out of 19.

It’s the first time in the Derby’s 145-year history that the winner was disqualified for interference. One of Maximum Security’s co-owners has criticized the disqualification as “egregious” and said he was pondering an appeal.

Lawson said the incident has rekindled a long-simmering debate in racing about harmonizing the rules across all jurisdictions. Almost all countries have adopted Category 1 interference rules, including Australia, Japan, France and the United Kingdom. Canada and the U.S. are among the last holdouts.

“The balance of the world is very critical of North America, and the United States, for not adopting Category 1,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump was also upset with the result, tweeting that the “best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby — not even close!”

— with files from The Associated Press

Adam Burns, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

76 new cases of COVID-19 reported Thursday

Active cases at 1,036, 10,713 recovered cases

Alberta RCMP launch online crime reporting

Select property crimes can now be reported online through the province-wide initiative

COVID-19 tests urged for all teachers and school staff

121 new cases Wednesday, active cases up to 1,040

Two-night fundraiser supports Sylvan Lake family after parent death

Billy Cooney, owner of Cooney Creek Plumbing and Heating, died July 25 after a dirt bike accident

Sylvan Lake Community Partners reorganizes to better serve clients

The facility was thoroughly cleaned and reorganized during its shutdown due to COVID-19

Charges likely in fatal attack at central Alberta medical clinic: RCMP

A vigil was held Monday night to mourn the victim

Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools receive grant from Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

WRPS has received $15,975 from the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation.

Three people drown at Crescent Falls

Rocky Mountain House RCMP say the incident occurred Tuesday

Feds seeking private consultant to design firearm buyback program

The ban covers some 1,500 models and variants of what the government considers assault-style weapons

Face masks for teachers can impact learning on young children, experts say

Face coverings, mandatory in most indoor public places across the province, can help limit the spread of COVID-19

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Most Read