Horse Racing

Mike Tirico sorts through chaotic Kentucky Derby with Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey

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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.

British horse racing inspired by Formula 1 for new series

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LONDON (AP) British horse racing is drawing inspiration from motor racing for a new championship.

Twelve branded teams will compete over eight consecutive Thursdays at different race courses across Britain when “The Series” is launched by Championship Horse Racing in 2019.

The aim is for each team to feature 30 horses and four jockeys. Each of the teams will enter one horse into each of the races to create 12-runner fields.

Organizers say a Formula One-style points system will be used to determine the winners of championships for teams and jockeys.

Championship Horse Racing CEO Jeremy Wray says it’s a chance to engage fans with “bite-size, interactive content.”

The Series has been developed with the Jockey Club, which hopes to attract a new audience to horse racing.

World’s No. 1 horse Arrogate returns to racing at Del Mar

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Arrogate is returning to racing after a nearly four-month layoff with a bulls-eye on his back.

The 4-year-old colt ranked the world’s No. 1 horse brings a seven-race winning streak into the San Diego Handicap on Saturday at Del Mar. He won the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic last year, the $12 million Pegasus World Cup in January and the $10 million Dubai World Cup in his last start on March 25.

His career earnings of $17,084,600 are a North American record.

So what’s a big-shot like him doing in a $300,000 stakes?

It’s a tuneup for more prestigious races later on and the first of three potential starts the colt will make at the seaside track north of San Diego. Arrogate’s target this summer is the $1 million Pacific Classic on Aug. 19. This fall, he will defend his title in the BC Classic, which he won last year at Santa Anita.

The field for the Grade 2 San Diego was reduced to five on Friday when trainer Keith Desormeaux decided to run Dalmore in Sunday’s $75,000 Wickerr Stakes instead of taking on Arrogate.

That leaves Accelerate, Cat Burglar, El Huerfano and Donworth to challenge Arrogate, who figures to be the odds-on favorite in the 1 1/16-mile race. Bob Baffert trains both Arrogate and Cat Burglar.

Arrogate will carry high weight of 126 pounds, including Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. The colt is spotting Cat Burglar eight pounds, Accelerate nine pounds, Donworth 10 pounds and El Huerfano 11 pounds. In a handicap race, weights are assigned by the racing secretary.

Arrogate hasn’t carried that much weight since winning a minor race at Del Mar last summer. After that, he grabbed the sport’s attention with a record 13 +-length victory in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga. It’s been one big-money victory after another ever since.

The colt has distanced himself from the competition in ways not seen in racing recently.

He knocked off fan favorite and Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome in the BC Classic and beat Chrome again in the Pegasus World Cup. Traveling thousands of miles to Dubai didn’t faze Arrogate, either. Despite a poor start out of the gate, he went on to victory in the desert.

Baffert has masterfully managed Arrogate’s career for owner Juddmonte Farm, with the Hall of Fame trainer carefully picking his spots and the colt’s performance backing him up every time. His only loss came in his career debut when he finished third.

Still, Baffert knows better than most what it’s like leading a world-beater to the track only to watch him lose.

That’s what happened two years ago, when American Pharoah was stunned by Keen Ice in the Travers barely two months after becoming horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

And Arrogate’s rivals are spoiling for a similar upset at Del Mar.

“One great thing about this sport is that they’re not machines,” said Doug O’Neill, who trains Donworth. “As much as Arrogate looks unbeatable, they all are beatable. If he’s not feeling it on Saturday and we are, we’ll shock the world.”