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

Maximum Security wins Haskell, survives inquiry

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OCEANPORT, N.J. (AP) Maximum Security captured the $1 million Haskell Invitational and, unlike the Kentucky Derby, survived a steward’s inquiry Saturday night.

It capped a long day that included a major delay triggered by intense heat and the safety concerns for the horses and riders. It led to the cancellation of six races and the delay in six stakes, including the Haskell, the biggest race in Monmouth’s meet.

When racing resumed around 6 p.m., the stakes went off without a hitch until the Haskell.

Maximum Security got to the finish line first, outlasting trainer Bob Baffert’s Mucho Gusto by 1 1/4 lengths.

For a minute, it seemed a clear-cut win in the Grade I race. However, the stewards posted the inquiry sign. Videotape replays showed King for a Day had to check when Maximum Security and Mucho Gusto stormed past.

However, it was quickly dismissed, unlike the Derby when there was a 22-minute delay before Country House was elevated to the top spot and Maximum Security was dropped to 17th place. It was the first time a horse that crossed the finish line first in the Derby was disqualified.

Owners Gary and Mary West are still trying to overturn that decision in federal court in Kentucky.

This was one of the most bizarre days in the 52-year history of the Haskell and it was just another weird twist in the 3-year-old thoroughbred picture which has had one strange turn after another.

There was the Kentucky Derby disqualification. A riderless horse in the Preakness. Three different winners of the Triple Crown races.

The latest turn came Saturday as the extreme temperature and a heat index value reaching 107- caused track officials to a order a 4 1/2-hour delay after the running of the first two races on the 14-race card.

The Haskell went off at 8:11 p.m., 2 hours, 24 minutes after its scheduled start. The field was reduced to six horses when third-place Belmont States finisher Joevia scratch after the delay.

The 1 1/8-mile race was outstanding. King for a Day, who beat Maximum Security in the Pegasus here last month, and the four of the other five colts were closely bunched for the early going with only Everfast trailing.

Around the far turn, Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez and Mucho Gusto and rider Joe Talamo charged around King for a Day, who was on the rail.

Maximum Security was in the middle lane with Mucho Gusto on the outside. As they turned for home, Maximum Security seemed to put King for a Day and jockey John Velazquez in tight quarters. The only question was whether King for a Day committed a foul or King for a Day ran out of room as he tried to charge up the rail.

There was no change this time. The Jason Servis-trained Maximum Security covered the distance in 1:47.56 and paid $3.60, $2.60 and $2.20.

Mucho Gusto returned $3.40 and $2.80. Spun To Run finished third and paid $5.60 to show.

For the second straight day, the National Weather Service posted an excessive heat warning advisory Saturday, with near steady temperatures in the lower 90s in Monmouth County. The heat index values reached 107. It dipped to 103 by the time racing resumed.

Animal rights activists protested outside the New Jersey Shore track before the first race was to run.

Dennis Drazin, chairman and chief executive of Darby Development, operators of Monmouth Park, said a group of track, state and independent veterinarians monitored the heat for days and felt it was safe to race.

“However, given the heightened concern from the public about the heat, and in the interest of the safety of the horses and jockeys, we’ve decided to proceed with an abundance of caution, to cancel the remaining nonstakes races and to delay the six stakes races,” he said.

None of the horses who competed in the eight races run showed any sign of injury.

Drazin said he had been in contact with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. The governor left the final decision on whether to run to Drazin. He opted for caution in delaying the card, fearing harm to the horses and industry if there were a death.

With racing under pressure because of many horse deaths horses in California, most East coast tracks on Friday canceled their Saturday cards, including Saratoga Race Course.

“It would have created additional momentum to the crisis that already exists because of California problems,” Drazin said of a possible death of a horse. “We’re on the cusp of a crisis in the industry.”

A crowd of 37,186 attended last year’s Haskell, and another big crowd was expected Saturday for Monmouth Park’s biggest racing day. When the announcement came of canceled races and the delayed stakes, fans streamed to the exits. The track announced an attendance of 25,173 but many left before the big races.

Drazin said no decision had been made on how to compensate fans who paid for admission and parking. The track canceled its card planned for Sunday.

NBC was going to televise the Haskell live when it had a 5:47 p.m. post time, but it ended up streaming the race live on its digital platform.

Midnight Bisou won her fifth straight stakes this year, capturing the $150,000 Molly Pitcher with Mike Smith riding.

In other stakes, Just Howard edged Divisidero by a head in the $150,000 Oceanport; Justaholic ($5) won the $75,000 Wolf Hill; War Story ($16) took the $200,000 Monmouth Cup and I’m So Fancy ($5.80) captured the $150,000 WinStar Matchmaker.

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues on NBC Sports with the Whitney Stakes from Saratoga Springs on August 3. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Monmouth racing card shaken amid fierce heat, track protests

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OCEANPORT, N.J. — With extreme heat draining fans and causing concern about the horses, Monmouth Park canceled six races and pushed back until early evening its stakes races, including the $1 million Haskell Invitational headlined by Maximum Security.

The decision came after the start of the first race was delayed and the racing card was re-evaluated after the second race.

The National Weather Service again posted an excessive heat warning advisory Saturday, with near steady temperatures in the lower 90s in Monmouth County. The heat index values reached 107.

Animal rights activists protested outside the New Jersey Shore track before the first race was to run.

Dennis Drazin, chairman and chief executive of Darby Development, operators of Monmouth Park, said a group of track, state and independent veterinarians monitored the heat for days and felt it was safe to race.

“However, given the heightened concern from the public about the heat, and in the interest of the safety of the horses and jockeys, we’ve decided to proceed with an abundance of caution, to cancel the remaining nonstakes races and to delay the six stakes races,” he said.

Drazin said he had been in contact with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who left the decision on whether to race to Drazin. He went with caution, fearing harm to the horses and industry if there were a death.

With racing under pressure because of many horse deaths horses in California, most East coast tracks on Friday canceled their Saturday cards, including Saratoga Race Course and Finger Lakes in New York and Laurel Park in Maryland.

“It would have created additional momentum to the crisis that already exists because of California problems,” Drazin said of a possible death of a horse. “We’re on the cusp of a crisis in the industry.”

A crowd of 37,186 attended last year’s Haskell, and another big crowd was expected Saturday for Monmouth Park’s biggest racing day. When the announcement came of canceled races and the delayed stakes, fans streamed to the exits.

Drazin said no decision had been made on how to compensate fans who paid for admission and parking.

In addition to the Haskell, the card’s other stakes races are The Oceanport, The Molly Pitcher, The Wolf Hill, The Monmouth Cup and the Matchmaker.

NBC was going to televise the Haskell live when it had a 5:47 p.m. post time. Monmouth spokesman Tom Luicci said the network planned to fill its 5-6 p.m. slot with other horse-racing covering. It was going to stream the race live on its digital platform at 8:05 p.m., he said.

The start of the first race was delayed by almost 40 minutes, with no reason given at the time for the move. The 14-race card was reassessed after the next race. The six stakes races were reset for 6 p.m., with the Haskell at 8:05 p.m.

Maximum Security, who finished first in the Kentucky Derby and then was disqualified, leads the field of seven in the 1 1/8-mile Haskell.

The first two races went off without incident. The horses were hosed down on the track after the races. There were misting fans in the paddock before the races.