Country House’s historic win at the 145th Kentucky Derby sent shock waves around the country and forever impacted horse racing.
The 65-1 long shot crossed the wire second but was declared the winner after Maximum Security, who finished over a length ahead, was disqualified by race stewards for moving out of his lane and impeding several other horses.
Mike Tirico, the host of the 145th Kentucky Derby, invited NBC horse racing analysts Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey onto The Mike Tirico Podcast to sort out all the chaos.
“Think of a five-lane highway,” Tirico explained. “Maximum Security’s in the left lane without a blinker and comes over to the middle lane. Those cars either have to check up really quick, which sometimes causes a crash, or they get bumped or nicked and they crash.”
Retired Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey went on to say that there were some potentially unavoidable factors: horses are thousand-pound animals with minds of their own. However, he believes Maximum Security’s jockey Luis Saez reacted quickly, but not quick enough.
As Bailey explained, racing stewards—the rule enforcers—can press the inquiry button to open an investigation into anything they think may have been against the rules. Part of the chaos from Saturday’s race came from the stewards not flagging the incident. The stewards went on to cancel a post-race interview with NBC and didn’t take any questions after holding a press conference about the decision, which is representative of a bigger transparency issue in American horse racing.
Looking beyond the controversy, the three analyzed the run that put underdog Country House just behind Maximum Security. After breaking well and settling in mid-pack, Bailey said the deep closer found himself in prime position to come from behind.
“I was particularly impressed by his maturity and improvement,” he added.
Coming off of three starts in seven weeks, Moss wondered how Country House will run in the Preakness after a short, two-week turnaround. With other top Derby horses passing on the second leg of the Triple Crown, Tirico looked ahead to the possibility of a rematch between Country House, Maximum Security and even early favorite Omaha Beach, who scratched after an entrapped epiglottis impacted his breathing.
‘We’ve had two Triple Crowns in the last four years, and this might be the most talked about Kentucky Derby in 20 years,” Bailey concluded.