LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Maximum Security led all the way in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, only to become the first winner disqualified for interference in the race’s 145-year history. After a long wait, 65-1 shot Country House was declared the winner.
Country House finished second in the slop before an objection was raised, causing a lengthy delay while stewards repeatedly reviewed several angles of video footage, before he was elevated into the winner’s circle.
The stunning outcome gave Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott his first Derby victory at age 65.
“It feels pretty darn good,” Mott said. “It was an odd way to do it and we hate to back into any of these things. We’ll just have to prove ourselves in the future.”
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.
Country House paid $132.40 to win — the second-highest payout in Derby history.
It was a crushing turn of events for Maximum Security trainer Jason Servis and jockey Luis Saez, who already had begun celebrating what they thought were their first Derby victories.
Instead, previously undefeated Maximum Security was dropped to 17th of 19 horses. The colt was the 9-2 second choice in the wagering.
Prat claimed that Maximum Security ducked out in the final turn and forced several horses to steady.
War of Will came perilously close to clipping heels with Maximum Security, which could have caused a chain-reaction accident.
The stewards reviewed race footage for nearly 20 minutes while keeping the crowd of 150,729 in suspense, clutching their betting tickets. Trainers and jockeys involved stared at the closest video screen waiting for a result.
Code of Honor was moved up to second and Tacitus was third.
Improbable was fourth and Game Winner was fifth, two of trainer Bob Baffert’s trio of entries. His other horse, Roadster, was 15th.
The last claim of foul by a jockey in the Derby was unsuccessful. John Velazquez, aboard runner-up Invisible Ink in 2001, alleged interference at the quarter pole against Monarchos and Jorge Chavez, who crossed the finish line 4¾ lengths in front. The stewards didn’t change the result.
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.