Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs stewards — and the affected jockeys — explain the Kentucky Derby DQ

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The Churchill Downs stewards explained their rationale for disqualifying apparent Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security and placing the runner-up finisher, Country House, in the top spot Saturday evening.

In a prepared statement read to media members, Barbara Borden, chief steward for the state of Kentucky, said that Maximum Security’s mishap in the final turn affected a number of other horses in the race.

“The riders of the 18 (Long Range Toddy) and 20 (Country House) horses in the Kentucky Derby lodged objections against the 7 horse, the winner, due to interference turning for home, leaving the quarter pole,” said Borden, who was joined by her fellow stewards, Butch Becraft and Tyler Picklesimer. “We had a lengthy review of the race. We interviewed the affected riders. We determined that the 7 horse drifted out and impacted the progress of the number 1 (War of Will), in turn interfering with the 18 and 21 (Bodexpress). Those horses were all affected, we thought, by the interference, therefore we unanimously determined to disqualify number 7 and place him behind the 18 — the 18 being the lowest-placed horse that he bothered, which is our typical procedure.”

The deliberations took 21 minutes and 57 seconds before the disqualification was made.

Maximum Security led the field into the final turn, and the trouble began when they moved back toward the Churchill Downs grandstand. Maximum Security drifted out and into the path of War of Will, who had to check hard. Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress were also affected by the mishap.

“I really thought I was going to win the Derby,” said War of Will jockey Tyler Gaffalione. “I checked pretty hard when (Maximum Security) came out as far as he did.”

Country House was minimally impacted by the ordeal, though jockey Flavien Prat confirmed on the track that he did file an objection with the stewards.

“It was a wide move, and I thought they had to look at it,” Prat said. “It slightly bothered us, but it also bothered the two horses inside of us, which I thought they should look at it.”

By rule, Maximum Security was bumped all the way from first to 17th, one place behind Long Range Toddy, who was the lowest-placed finisher affected by the mishap and faded badly after checking up as a result of Maximum Security’s move.

“I thought I never put anybody in danger,” Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez said. “My horse shied away from the noise of the crowd and may have ducked out a little.”