Country House, jockeyed by Flavien Prat and trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, was named the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby after it was ruled that post time favorite Maximum Security made a move that significantly changed the outcome of the race. This is the first Derby win for both jockey and trainer.
Maximum Security crossed the finish line a length and a half ahead of Country House, but just after the race, officials began reviewing tape. They ruled that on the final turn, Maximum Security moved out of his lane and bumped his hind right leg into War of Will, who went on to cross the finish line eighth (seventh after the ruling). For the first time ever, the horse that made it to the wire first was disqualified on site.
According to the Associated Press, Prat raised the objection.
After Maximum Security’s disqualification, Code of Honor finished second and Tacitus, also trained by Mott, was third. See the full results here.
“No word can describe it,” Prat said of his unexpected and historic win. “It’s amazing.”
While Maximum Security led wire to wire, Country House was a long shot on the outside looking in until the closer began to pick through the field, eventually finding himself at the front of the pack down the stretch.
“I really lost my momentum around the turn,” Prat told NBC. “I thought after that I was going to win, but it kind of cost me, actually.”
With 65-1 post time odds, Country House paid $132.40 to win, according to the Associated Press.
“It feels pretty darn good,” Mott told the Associated Press. “It was an odd way to do it and we hate to back into any of these things. We’ll just have to prove ourselves in the future.”
After a disappointing fourth place finish in the Louisiana Derby, Country House defied a quick turn around to run third in the Arkansas Derby and qualify for the Derby. In six starts, he had one win, two seconds and one third for $260,175 in total career earnings. The Kentucky-bred horse is jointly owned by Maury Shields, Eugene “Guinness” McFadden and LNJ Foxwoods.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” said McFadden when asked about what this victory meant to former owner, and McFadden’s late uncle, Jerry Shields. “I can’t really put into words what it means to us. He was special.”
Maximum Security’s disqualification was only the second ever in Kentucky Derby history. In 1968, Dancer’s Image failed a drug test and was disqualified long after the race ended.
Gary West, co-owner of Maximum Security, criticized race stewards’ disqualification of his horse’s Kentucky Derby victory. “I think this is the most egregious disqualification in the history of horse racing, and not just because it’s our horse,” West told The Associated Press.
After the post position draw, Omaha Beach was the early 4-1 favorite with jockey Mike Smith aboard, but scratched after an entrapped epiglottis made breathing difficult for the morning line favorite. Bodexpress moved into the race as the No. 21 horse after the scratch.
Hall of Famer Smith, who initially passed on riding Bob Baffert‘s horse Roadster, accepted a ride on Cutting Humor who finished 11th.
Two-time Triple Crown winner Baffert finished Improbable at fourth, Game Winner at fifth and Roadster at 15th.
It may have been the 145th Run for the Roses, but the on-site disqualification of a winner was not the only first. Koichi Tsunoda‘s long shot Master Fencer became the first Japan-bred horse to run in the Derby. At the age of 58, Long Range Toddy‘s jockey Jon Court became the oldest person to ride in the Kentucky Derby.
Country House will go for the second leg of the Triple Crown at the 144th Preakness Stakes on May 18 on NBC and the NBC Sports app. The 151st Belmont Stakes will round out NBC’s coverage of the Triple Crown on June 8.
Last year, Baffert’s horse Justify won the 144th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs with Mike Smith. Owned by WinStar Farm, he became the 13th horse to win the Triple Crown and Bob Baffert’s second, coming just three years after American Pharoah’s 2015 campaign.
Contributing: Associated Press