Country House wins the 2019 Kentucky Derby after Maximum Security disqualified

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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

Irad Ortiz sets single-season record with 77th stakes win

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NEW YORK – Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. earned his record 77th single-season North American stakes victory when he guided Dr B to victory in the $200,000 Go for Wand at Aqueduct.

The 30-year-old native of Puerto Rico broke the old mark of 76 set by the late Hall of Fame rider Garrett Gomez in 2007.

“This is great. Amazing feeling,” said Ortiz, Jr., who won the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey from 2018-20. “Gomez did it in 2007 and he was a great rider, one of the best in the game. I’m so happy just to be a part of this. I love this sport.”

Ortiz Jr. won the Belmont Stakes with Mo Donegal in June to go with Breeders’ Cup victories in the Juvenile, Filly & Mare Sprint and Sprint. He also earned nine other Grade 1 wins in New York, including Life Is Good in the Woodward and Whitney and Nest in the Alabama and Coaching Club Oaks. He won riding titles at Belmont’s spring-summer meet and Saratoga’s summer meet.

Ortiz Jr. leads North American riders with 304 overall victories this year. His purse earnings totaled over $35.8 million going into Saturday’s races, which already surpassed his single-season record of $34.1 million in 2019.

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

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NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”