Maximum Security Doesn’t “Secure” the Kentucky Derby Win


Maia Berthier

Kentucky Derby fans were torn over the calls made by officials at the 145th race.

This past Friday, May 4, the 145th annual running of the Kentucky derby took place. There were 20 contenders in the competition and each participant raced around the track for a total distance of 1.25 miles, as was done in the previous years. However, this year there was a discrepancy relating to the outcome of the race. Maximum Security, one of the predicted frontrunners of the race, interfered in the running of the other horses and therefore got disqualified from its first place position. This has caused quite an uproar in the sports community because of the uncommon nature of disqualifications in horse racing; this was the first time in the entire history of the Kentucky Derby that it occurred. Maximum Security should be disqualified even if it does “ruin” the reputation of the race because the horse’s trainer needs to be held accountable for the clear run-in that took place during the race.

Maximum Security’s loss has brought more attention to the exact reason that it was disqualified. If you look closely at the race, you can see that Maximum Security got in the way of  War of Will, Long Range Toddy, and Country House. According to the rules, this would not have lead to a disqualification if it did not affect the outcome of the race. After this run-in, both War of Will and Long Range Toddy slowly went towards the back of the race, not as a result of the bump by Maximum Security. Country House, though, remained at the front of the race and got second place behind Maximum Security. This was a direct consequence of the disqualified party’s actions and is grounds for disqualifications. Jason Servis, the trainer of Maximum Security, is filing an appeal to overturn the ruling made by the Kentucky Derby officials. However, it is unlikely that it will be successful because of the accuracy of the original ruling. In horse racing, people tend to forget that these horses do not ride on the track alone and should not be treated as if a bump is just a mild action. There is someone controlling them and consciously making decisions about where they need to move the horse in order to win, as well as more than 2 years of constant training. By bumping into and tripping Country House, Maximum Security’s trainer did not run a clean and fair race. Although Maximum Security had the capability to win on its own, its trainer did not make a fair call and instead lead to their disqualification.

“I believe the ruling was correct because the judges disqualified maximum security as a result of the outcome of the race and didn’t just brush it off because he was ‘the best’ horse on the field,” freshman Eden Sobalvarro said.

NBC Sports

Many people have argued that this race is one that goes down in history and the disqualification of Maximum Security tarnishes its “record”. However, letting a violation that goes against the rules of the event itself is what would truly bruise its reputation. The only reason why a disqualification has not occurred before is that there have not been grounds for disqualification in any of the races. It was never out of the question for the judges in the past, so this ruling cannot be considered “unreasonable”. If Maximum Security was not disqualified, the entire integrity of the Historic Kentucky Derby would have gone to waste and praise that Maximum Security and his trainer would have received would not have been earned in a fair way.

“I don’t think he should’ve been disqualified because all the racers were crowded on one side of the track so it would’ve been hard to move around without disturbing any of the other racers and in the video, the sports announcers say that Maximum Security made the one that got second place ‘trip’ but personally, I did not see that in the replay,” freshman Laura Delgado said.

In the end, it is not about who “the best” horse is. If the horse deemed the best cheats, they cannot qualify in the race. Using that strength and ability towards a fair win might have brought in a win for Maximum Security and his trainer, but by going against the rules, the judges did see it was necessary to disqualify them. In order for the reputation of the race to remain fair, the judges had to disqualify Maximum Security because of the errors that were made not only by the horse, but the trainer as well.