Country House has pulled off a huge upset in the Kentucky Derby as stewards awarded the 65-1 long shot the victory following an objection that Maximum Security, the first horse to cross the finish line, interfered with the path of several horses.
Maximum Security had appeared to win the 145th Derby by 1¾ lengths in the mud after taking control out of the final turn. The objection was filed and stewards took about 20 minutes reviewing the race from several angles before declaring Country House the winner. Jockey Flavien Prat then celebrated as the finish was announced to the surprised crowd of 157,729.
Code of Honor was second, with Tacitus third.
Heavy rain has caused the main dirt track at Churchill Downs to be downgraded from fast to sloppy for the Kentucky Derby.
Bad weather that was expected arrived about three hours before post time. Rain fell harder as race time grew closer, making for a tough trek for the handlers and connections as they marched from the backside barn area around to the front stretch.
An off track is nothing new for Maximum Security, the 4-1 favorite. The unbeaten colt earned the second of his four victories by 6½ lengths in a muddy six-furlong race at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 24. He entered the Derby with 3 1/2-length win in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30.
After several hours of an overcast but dry sky, a light drizzle is falling at Churchill Downs in the prelude to heavier rain expected to arrive in time for the Kentucky Derby.
The main track and turf are fast and good for now, though that is expected to change.
Spectators continue to mill and mingle throughout the paddock and grandstand with drinks and racing programs in hand. Not to mention plastic rain ponchos in preparation for the main downpour.
Some women even have plastic covers festooned to big, fancy, colorful hats. Others thought better of it, given the gloomy forecast. Brenda Oliver spent $300 on a big poofy black and white fascinator for her first Derby and her friend Caroline Washle borrowed a massive hat from her mother. The 19-year-olds watched the weather reports and feared they’d be ruined by the rain, so left the headwear at home.
They watched other Derby-goers around them, hats on nearly every head, and started regretting that choice.
“The more I look around, the more I feel sort of out of place,” Oliver said.
Maximum Security is the 9-2 favorite in early wagering for Saturday’s 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. The Florida Derby winner is 4-0 in his brief career.
Tacitus and Improbable are the co-second choices at 5-1. Game Winner is the 6-1 fourth choice.
The longest shot in the 19-horse Derby field is Bodexpress at 90-1. The colt hasn’t won in five career starts, although he’s finished second three times.
Only three so-called maidens have ever won the Derby; the last was Brokers Tip in 1933.
Morning showers have given way to heavy overcast skies at Churchill Downs, though another wave of rain is expected before the Kentucky Derby goes off later in the day.
Spectators seem prepared for the elements, with some carrying ponchos because umbrellas are banned. The forecast hasn’t prevented many from wearing colorful outfits and fancy shoes, though quite a few are wearing rain boots as a precaution.
A few rain-free hours have helped the main dirt track stay fast with the turf track listed as firm.
Bob Baffert not only has the Kentucky Derby favorite but two other horses capable of giving him a share of history.
Game Winner is the 9-2 favorite for Saturday’s 145th running at Churchill Downs after opening Tuesday as the 5-1 second choice behind Omaha Beach, who was scratched because of a breathing problem. Baffert’s two other horses, Roadster and Improbable, are 5-1 co-second choices that give the Hall of Fame trainer additional chances to win a sixth Derby and tie Ben Jones’ record.
The Derby’s only unbeaten horse, 8-1 shot Maximum Security, aims to improve to 5-0 lifetime. He and Game Winner are owned by Gary and Mary West.
The field features 19 3-year-old colts who will run 1¼ mile in the $3 million race that features a forecast of steady showers.
Post time is scheduled for 6:46 p.m. EDT.
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