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

Qualicum Beach man arrested over racist incident at Tseshaht First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP said the man turned himself in

B.C. Ferries says Departure Bay-Horseshoe Bay sailings filling up fast

Tsawwassen-Duke Point may be a better alternative between June 4 and 7, says ferry corporation

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Vancouver Islanders gathering to rally for Black lives

‘To speak up, all you need is a voice and the will to be heard’

VIDEO: View Royal resident spots cougar in nearby backyard

B.C. Conservation notified about early Thursday morning sighting

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

No lifeguards this summer for some popular Island swimming spots, no swimming at all for others

Fears of risk to health and safety during COVID-19 pandemic partly to blame

No architect for Langford building ruled ‘unreasonable’ by B.C. Supreme Court

Legal action brought against City in 2019 for permit issued on Hoffman Avenue building

Number of property sales down by 40 per cent when compared to last year

Value of single-family home, condominium in Victoria up from last year despite pandemic

3 people found violating court imposed curfews in Cowichan

People are placed on curfews for a variety of public safety reasons.

Chilliwack dad rescues two young daughters after truck plunges into lake

“I used every single one of my angels that day,” said Dennis Saulnier

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Most Read