A disqualification for all the wrong reasons: the Maximum Security/Kentucky Derby controversy

So I’ve kind of taken a bit of a step back from following sports. I never was a huge horse racing fan, though my mom is and I wind up watching a few more horse races and movies about horse racing than I otherwise would because of that. So it is no big surprise, then, that I wound up in front of the TV for at least part of the Kentucky Derby and had a figurative front-row seat for the controversy that followed as Country House was awarded the win and Maximum Security was disqualified after a lengthy review.

I’m not sure what the stewards saw when reviewing the race footage or if they even had access to the actual NBC Sports broadcast footage versus something recorded by the track’s own cameras. In the days after the race it came to light that if any horse was to be disqualified for interference, it should have been Country House, and Maximum Security was the victim and not the perpetrator, according to a video included in a WAVE 3 News report.

That same report indicates that the owners of Maximum Security may file a lawsuit over the questionable officiating. I don’t blame them, as this is, if not a worst case scenario for what can go wrong in the officiating of a horse race, very close to one. Every game or sport, sooner or later, is going to have an officiating issue or some type of controversy over a call. Even competitive pinball has rules governing irregularities as well as officials who have to make judgment calls, and blown calls do happen there as well. The fact that the stewards took over 20 minutes, and still, according to many fans, got it way wrong, is not going to help the image of horse racing in the least. The Kentucky Racing Commission rubber-stamping the stewards’ decision isn’t a good look for the sport, either. I hope this is the last time a high-profile race like this ends in such a controversial decision, and I hope Maximum Security gets his rightfully earned victory back.