Derby disqualification stirs controversy

Country House declared winner after Maximum Security’s rule-breaking mishap

Video provided via NBC Sports


The Kentucky Derby was held here, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The race has annually been held here since 1875.

Nicky Varela, Sports Editor

To quote Ricky Bobby from the American classic Talladega Nights, “If you’re not first, you’re last.” But now, at least in the realm of horse racing, there is an exception to that statement.

On Saturday, May 4, 2019, the horse Maximum Security crossed the finish line first, ahead of second place finisher Country House. All seemed normal at first, as that’s how every single Kentucky Derby had worked up to that point, with the horse who finished first being declared the winner. Unfortunately for Maximum Security, however, the advent of replay review led to the possibility of a race being overturned. Knowing this, the jockey behind Country House filed for objection. At first, this seemed like a last-ditch effort. However, it proved that nothing is truly certain in sports.

After 22 minutes of replay review, the objection was deemed correct and was upheld. Thus, Country House, despite holding just 65-1 odds, was declared the winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby. Immediately following the ruling, chaos ensued among angered fans.

“I was pretty confused about it,” said sophomore Mason Munoz. “I mean, I only lost like ten dollars on the race, but you gotta feel for the people who bet like hundreds or thousands on it.”

The reason behind the ruling was the root of the hostility from fans. While rounding a turn, Maximum Security went a little wide and ever-so-slightly bumped into horses War of Will and Long Range Toddy, impeding their trot from continuing at full speed. Since this action goes against the rules, the officials had no other choice to disqualify the horse, making Maximum Security the first horse to ever be disqualified after winning the Derby for something that happened while on-track in the 145-year history of the race.

“What I thought was dumb was that Maximum Security didn’t even bump into Country House,” sophomore Matt Duval said. “Those two horses that were bumped into wouldn’t have won anyway.”

Since the inception of the race known as, “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports,” controversy has often remained an issue that never really needed any worrying about. Yet, the 2019 Kentucky Derby proved that controversy in sports will always live on, no matter the situation.