As all of Kentucky and the world continues to process what they just witnessed at Churchill Downs at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, let’s take a look at what we all saw.
On yet another rainy Derby Saturday, Maximum Security finished the race just as clean as he started it. He looked every bit the 4-1 favorite en route to going wire to wire on the rest of the field. Owner Gary West thought he had himself a Kentucky Derby victory.
The drama officially began once he crossed the finish line because the race remained unofficial for several minutes. After an inquiry ruling, it was determined that Maximum Security, ridden by Luis Saez, affected the outcome of the race by impeding the path of War of Will, Long Range Toddy and Country House.
As long time NBC Sports analysts Jerry Bailey and Randy Moss were doing their best to explain the situation as it was happening and convey their thoughts to us, they said several times that “by the letter of the law” Maximum Security did impede the path of the other horses.
Having said that, it still seemed like they didn’t think that it would be enough to overturn the results that had just occurred on the track. We were all mistaken has the never before seen happened.
So here’s my question. Shouldn’t there be more leeway for the uncontrollable or the unexpected? I’m a very casual horse racing and NASCAR fan, but Jimmie Johnson or Kurt Busch can make sudden quick movements to keep fellow drivers at bay. In fact it would be considered absurd if they didn’t, especially in the final few laps.
So why is Luis Saez penalized for a 1,200 pound animal veering to the right in the middle of a turn when no one was expecting it? The pre-race coverage reference Calvin Borel’s 2009 win with Mine That Bird and the start he overcame.
He got jammed up right at the start and fell all the way to last place. If he hadn’t come all the way back to win could he have made an inquiry due to his outcome being affected? Yes this occurred at the beginning of the race, but the movements Maximum Security made were just as uncontrollable. And it’s not like Saez sterred him in their path intentionally.
What if Maximum Security goes on to win the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes? Imagine this decision preventing a Triple Crown from being achieved.
What’s done is done now. The unthinkable took place today and the conversation is only beginning.