May 4 (UPI) -- Country House, a 65-1 long shot, finished second in Saturday's Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, but became the 145th winner of the most storied race, thanks to an historic ruling by the stewards.
After examining video and interviewing the jockeys, the officials disqualified first-place finisher Maximum Security for interference at the top of the stretch and elevated Country House to just the second win of his career.
It was the first time in the history of the Run for the Roses that a first-place finisher had been disqualified before the race was made official.
The decision cost trainer Jason Servis and jockey Luis Saez their first Kentucky Derby win and promoted trainer Bill Mott and jockey Flavien Pratt to their first.
Code of Honor was elevated to second and Tacitus to third in the 1 1/4-miles race, run for the third straight year over a wet track. Maximum Security was placed 17th in the field of 19, behind Long Range Toddy, also ruled to have been victimized by the foul.
"The winner kind of pushed me sideways," Prat said. "It really cost my momentum around the turn."
Saez admitted Maximum Security "came out a little," likely spooked by the roar of the infield crowd. "I grabbed him. He never put nobody in danger," Saez argued.
In fact, replays showed Maximum Security moved directly in front of another contender, War of Will, and it was only by chance their legs did not become entangled. Had War of Will fallen, most of the field immediately behind him would have been in serious peril, as well.
Country House was not directly affected by the incident, although the horses to his inside were forced outward. That the objection was filed by his rider and not War of Will's jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, will fuel controversy for a long time.
Chief Steward Barbara Borden delivered a statement to the media after the race, but did not take questions. It read:
"We had a lengthy review of the race. We interviewed affected riders. We determined that the 7 horse (Maximum Security) drifted out and impacted the progress of Number 1 (War of Will), in turn, interfering with the 18 (Long Range Toddy) and 21 (Bodexpress). Those horses were all affected, we thought, by the interference.
"Therefore, we unanimously determined to disqualify Number 7 and place him behind the 18, the 18 being the lowest placed horse that he bothered, which is our typical procedure."
Before the ruling, Mott argued there were clear grounds for disqualification of his rival. Afterward, he was more reserved.
"It was an odd way to do it and we hate to back into any of these things," Mott said. "It was a bittersweet way to do it but our horse ran well ... We'll just have to prove it in the future."
Mott also trains Tacitus.
The ruling did not sit well with the crowd, announced at 150,729 despite the rain. Boos accompanied the trophy presentation as backers of Maximum Security, second-favorite in the race at just more than 4-1 odds, tore up their mutuel tickets.
Long-shot players were happier. The $2 win payout for Country House of $132.40 was the second-biggest in history, behind only Donerail, who started at odds of 91-1 in 1913. A $2 exacta bet on Country House and Code of Honor returned $3,009.60 and a winning 50-cent trifecta ticket was worth $5,737.65.
Country House came into the Run for the Roses as winner of just one of six previous races, and it appeared for most of the Derby's 2 minutes, 3 and 93/100 seconds that he again would settle for a small piece of the purse.
Maximum Security, by contrast, came to Louisville undefeated in five previous races, including the Florida Derby. His first start, however, was in a $16,000 claiming race -- meaning anyone could have bought him for that price. There were no takers.
Country House, a chestnut colt owned by a partnership, is by Lookin at Lucky out of the War Chant mare Quake Lake. Lookin at Lucky finished sixth in the 2010 Kentucky Derby for trainer Bob Baffert, whose three starters were never prominent in this year's race. Improbable, the post-time favorite, finished fourth after the DQs. Game winner was fifth and Roadster sixteenth.
Master Fencer, winner of the "Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby" and the first Japanese-bred horse to contest the race, finished seventh and was promoted to sixth with a good run after starting last. Plus Que Parfait and Gray Magician, the first two finishers in the Group 2 UAE Derby in Dubai, were placed eighth and 19th, respectively.
The Triple Crown trail now leads to Baltimore and the May 18 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, whose owners have closed a large portion of the aging grandstand for safety reasons.