Luis Saez riding Maximum Security, second from right, goes around turn four with Flavien Prat riding Country House, left, Tyler Gaffalione riding War of Will and John Velazquez riding Code of Honor, right, during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Controversial finish at Kentucky Derby sparks debate in U.S., Canadian racing

Victory was overturned 22 minutes later when stewards disqualified Maximum Security for interference

A prominent voice in Canadian horse racing says the wild finish at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby has “opened up the debate” about how the sport is governed in the U.S. and Canada.

Woodbine Entertainment CEO Jim Lawson says the controversial result may have played out differently if North American racing authorities were to follow an approach that’s been adopted in almost every other country.

Lawson, who sits on the executive committee of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, says race stewards ruled correctly when they disqualified Maximum Security for impeding the path of another horse.

The 9-2 second choice initially appeared to have backed up his undefeated record with a 1 3/4-length victory over Country House on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs.

READ MORE: 65-1 longshot Country House wins Kentucky Derby after Maximum Security DQ’d

However, the victory was overturned 22 minutes later when stewards disqualified Maximum Security due to interference, bumping him down to 17th place and elevating Country House to the winner’s circle.

Lawson says in most countries, Maximum Security’s victory would likely have been upheld because officials have more discretion to determine where each horse would have finished had the interference not occurred.

“If the stewards say, ‘No, the best horse won’ — then they leave it,” Lawson said in a phone interview Sunday, referring to countries that follow what the IFHA refers to as “Category 1” rules for interference.

Under so-called “Category 2” rules, however, officials have no such discretion — if a horse is determined to have interfered, it is placed behind the horse that suffered the interference, regardless of what would have been the outcome had there been no interference.

In the case of Saturday’s Derby, Maximum Security was determined to have bothered all but two of the other horses in the race, dropping him into 17th out of 19.

It’s the first time in the Derby’s 145-year history that the winner was disqualified for interference. One of Maximum Security’s co-owners has criticized the disqualification as “egregious” and said he was pondering an appeal.

Lawson said the incident has rekindled a long-simmering debate in racing about harmonizing the rules across all jurisdictions. Almost all countries have adopted Category 1 interference rules, including Australia, Japan, France and the United Kingdom. Canada and the U.S. are among the last holdouts.

“The balance of the world is very critical of North America, and the United States, for not adopting Category 1,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump was also upset with the result, tweeting that the “best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby — not even close!”

— with files from The Associated Press

Adam Burns, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

REAL ESTATE: What type of recreational property user are you?

Columnist Freddy Marks explains what you need to consider before purchasing a recreational property

LETTER: Bouquets to my neighbours for helping me heal

Christene Fitzgerald thanks her Agassiz neighbours for helping her out after a fall

Harrison Festival fundraiser dance to have ’70s theme and features Chilliwack band

Chilliwack band The Vacationers to perform at May 31 Harrison Festival Society’s fundraising concert

Seabird Island opens 50th annual festival

The weekend festival will see First Nations teams compete in soccer, three-pitch and canoe races

LETTER: Agassiz’s amazing new pump station

Edward Monro talks about Hammersley Pump, but also the need for driver support on Mount Woodside

VIDEO: Powwow shares culture at Seabird Island Festival

The 50th anniversary of the festival saw its first powwow

Semis catch fire at wrecker off Highway 1 in west Abbotsford

Crews called to scene at around 2 p.m., finding up to six semis that had caught fire at the wrecker

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Most Read