Country House wins controversial Kentucky Derby after objection
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For the first time in the history of the Kentucky Derby, the winner of the race did not finish first.
Maximum Security, sent off as the tepid top choice at 9-2, bolted to the early lead and held it all the way to the wire, seemingly winning the 145th run for the roses, finishing a few lengths ahead of longshot Country House.
However, Country House jockey Flavien Prat filed an objection immediately after the race, claiming Maximum Security impeded the run of another horse. Replay shows Maximum Security did step out from his line near the rail, veering in front of War of Will (who ultimately crossed the line in eighth).
The scene at Churchill Downs was surreal as the three stewards examined footage for more than 15 minutes, with jockeys, horses and their connections standing on the muddied track waiting for an official result.
During the wait, Country House trainer Bill Mott acknowledged that his horse’s race was not impeded (later saying it might have been slightly), but said that if this were a normal race on a Thursday, Maximum Security’s win would be vacated and, as Mott noted, it shouldn’t matter if it’s a Thursday race or the Kentucky Derby, they should all be judged the same.
"If this was a $10,000 race on a Thursday, it's a no-brainer," Mott said.
In the century-plus long history of the race, no horse that finished first has ever had the run overturned. Until Saturday, when the stewards came back with a stunning decision: Maximum Security’s win was overturned.
With Maximum Security disqualified, the victory went to the horse that finished second — Country House, which went off at 65-1, the second-largest longshot in the history of the race. Only Donerail at 91-1 in the 1913 Derby had longer odds.
Code of Honor wound up second, followed by Tacitus.
Prat said afterward that while Country House was not contacted directly by Maximum Security, his horse was hit on the hip by another horse on the left hip, causing him to lose “momentum.”