Horse Racing

Country House wins wild Kentucky Derby by first-ever race-day disqualification

Trainer Bill Mott at the moment he found out he won the Kentucky Derby

Country House trainer Bill Mott watches the board as the stewards decide on an objection, then finds out his horse Country House won the 145th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Maximum Security was disqualified because of a foul.
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Country House trainer Bill Mott watches the board as the stewards decide on an objection, then finds out his horse Country House won the 145th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Maximum Security was disqualified because of a foul.

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Country House, a 65-1 shot, won a controversial 145th running of the Kentucky Derby after stewards ruled apparent winner Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez committed a foul in the final turn in front of a stunned a crowd of 150,729 at Churchill Downs.

It was the first win by disqualification on race day in the history of the Derby. The long odds make Country House the second-longest shot ever to win the Derby behind Donerail at 91-1 in 1913.

Code of Honor was second. Tacitus was third.

Stewards reviewed an objection for more than 15 minutes before declaring the result official. The ruling came after Maximum Security and Saez swung out slightly in the turn, causing War of Will to move across into the track as well.

The news of the disqualification shocked the Churchill crowd, many of whom booed the decision and the connections of Maximum Security, including trainer Jason Servis, who had just moments earlier been interviewed as the winner on television.

The decision marks the first Derby win for trainer Bill Mott.

“It feels pretty darn good,” Mott said in the Winner’s Circle. “It was an odd way to do it. We hate to back into any of these things. It’s bittersweet, but I’ve got to say our horse ran very well. Our jockey rode very well, and I’m thrilled to death for all our connections. They’re very deserving. We’ll just have to prove ourself in the future.”

The win ends a six-race streak of favorites winning the Derby.

Country House paid $132.40 to win, $56.60 for place and $24.60 to show. Code of Honor paid $15.20 and $9.80 and Tacitus paid $5.60. A $2 exacta paid $3,009.60. A $0.50 trifeca paid $5,737.65.

Jockey Flavien Prat, who originated the claim of foul, also won his first Derby.

“I’m kind of speechless right now,” Prat said, letting out a long sigh.

The winner is owned by Maury Shields, the widow of Joseph V. Shields Jr., who died last year at the age of 80, along with E.J.M McFadden Jr. and LNJ Foxwoods.

Later, the stewards made a statement about the decision, which came after objections were filed by the rider of Long Range Toddy (Jon Court) and Country House (Prat).

“We determine that the 7 horse drifted out and impacted the progress of No. 1 (War of Will), in turn, interfering with the 18 (Long Range Toddy and 21 (Bodexpress). Those horses were all affected by the interference,” said steward Barbara Borden, speaking on behalf of the three officials. “Therefore we unanimously determined to disqualify No. 7 and place him behind the 18, the 18 being the lowest-place horse that he bothered, which is typical procedure.”

The only other disqualification in the Derby occurred long after the race in 1968. Dancer’s Image, the first-place finisher, tested positive for a prohibited medication, and Kentucky state racing officials ordered the purse money to be redistributed. Forward Pass got the winner’s share. A subsequent court challenge upheld the stewards’ decision.

Kentucky Derby official order of finish

1. Country House

2. Code of Honor

3. Tacitus

4. Improbable

5. Game Winner

6. Master Fencer

7. War of Will

8. Plus Que Parfait

9. Win Win Win

10. Cutting Humor

11. By My Standards

12. Vekoma

13. Bodexpress

14. Tax

15. Roadster

16. Long Range Toddy

17. Maximum Security (DQ)

18. Spinoff

19. Gray Magician

The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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