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TrackNotes: Derby Stewards Show Courage In Trump's Lawless America

You can't say everybody, especially when many people grieve about a wager. But there is wholly too much indignation and victimhood after Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

And, put a lid on it., the wagering division of Churchill Downs Inc., has said it will refund win bets on Maximum Security up to $10. It's a damned cynical gesture to retain newbies in a land where every kid gets a trophy. Haven't these people ever heard about a tough beat?

This race has brought bad things out from a lot of people, including the orange alleged homosapien out east.

So I will tell you now: It was a tremendously great decision, and how would they feel if that horse had caused the massive pileup that he almost did?

The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby (Grade I, three-year-olds, 10 furlongs, 1-1/4 miles, $3,000,000) Saturday at Louisville's Churchill Downs was perfectly fitting for these turbulent times as Maximum Security, who nobody went after, was disqualified after crossing the Churchill wire first, giving Country House, at 64-1, the roses and, possibly, the last race he will ever "win."

After a 23-minute trial ended following an objection, it was the first time a horse has ever been disqualified from a win in the Derby through standard racing means. 1968's Dancers Image was DQ'd many weeks later on what is considered a frame job of having traces of phenylbutazone, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, in his system. Or it might have been because the Kentucky crackers disliked the fact that Dancer's owner, Peter Fuller, was involved personally in the civil rights movement and donated the purse money to Coretta Scott King just days after Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. How's that, crybabies?

As I mentioned Friday, everybody wants everything as they want it, and nothing less, instantaneously. Maximum Security's ownership is, naturally, threatening legal action. And they're taking a page out of that disgusting playbook, litigating it first in the trades and mainstream media. Lobbing accusations already. You know, it is possible to ban a horse from running if he can't control himself on the track - with the jockey getting caught up in that too.

I'd call Dr. Orange on Pennsylvania Avenue a horse's ass, but that would be an insult to Thoroughbred race horses' asses. Horses get most of their power from their hindquarters. Honorable Hairspray produces his from a bit earlier in the digestive tract.

Actually, the horse's owner, Gary West, should thank his lucky stars that the 20-horse pileup his runner almost caused did not happen. He was a dangerous pinball even back in the far turn, which is where the crime happened.

I never thought these Kentucky stewards would have the guts to make the call. Through experience, something about there will be no negative light on our big race. Whether it will even occur to them, the consequences of 20 bunched-up horses nearly manifested the worst.

The smug conspiracists gleefully Alex Jones'd that the stewards did not start an inquiry. The investigation came only when Country House's jockey, Flavien Prat, filed an objection. Ironically, the stewards ruled that Maximum Security did not interfere with Country House. Although I thought he did. Country House was made the winner. I didn't have him.

Being cynical, or weary, or both, I get the feeling respondents said "nobody can do that to us" and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll installed Maximum Security as the top three-year-old. He ran an aberrational gimmick of a race in the Florida Derby and was completely unprofessional Saturday. Trophies, for everyone, although this will also translate into breeding dollars.

I was wrong about the weather, generally. It turned out quite nice on Oaks Friday and the rain held off Saturday until, guess, it started up again just enough to turn the Derby into yet another slopfest.

Maximum Security, Luis Saez aboard, took the lead right away, saving much ground on the rail. As it turned into status quo for this race, I wondered and you couldn't have heard my shouts, why somebody didn't just go after him. Deja vu Florida Derby.

Midway through the final turn, at about 2:06, Maximum' committed his first crime, as subtle as it was. He angled out right and basically stopped most if not all of the momentum of War of Will, Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress.

The ruling was that 'Security impeded them enough to fully compromise their chances of winning. The ruling put Maximum Security behind them.

I get it, they're only three years old, but then, 'Security veered sharply left, nearly putting War of Will into or over the rail. Then, yet again, he, he drifted slightly but surely to his right and caused War of Will and Tyler Gaffalione to check up lest he climb 'Security's rear legs.

Like a courtroom TV show, the longer the stewards looked, the more you hoped they would make the call. Fully aware that races from a $40K claimer to this Derby rarely DQ a horse for anything less than attempted murder.

As for the rest of the weekend, it felt just like going through the motions all over again.

It was nice, I guess, that they visited American Pharoah and Justify, out two recent Triple Crown winners. When the lady asked the barn manager if the two horses get along, he said they don't ever see each other. "They would want to determine who's best."

On Friday, they barely even talked about Kentucky Oaks Day on Kentucky Oaks Day. When Mike Tirico came onboard for the Friday feature, they showed Belichick and then talked about football for at least five minutes. Either the NFL is genius at marketing or they've put screaming voices in my head.

Tim Layden, who keyboards over at Sports Illustrated, a membrane of its former self, did his best imitation of Heywood Hale Broun/Jack Whitaker/Ernest Hemingway, quite badly. He tried to talk about the horse deaths, but not even that repulsive tinkling piano and violin section could save him. He never really said anything other than "horses died." Tim, stroking velvet is not the same as reporting.

Eddie Olczyk is a national treasure. He was up and down on his wagers all weekend and described how to design a bet, which is more important than the betting itself. Eddie and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey went full locker room putdown. Apparently, Edzo walked onto the track and the rain soaked his suit. Bailey reached under the desk and pulled out a hanger with a tiny toddler jacket and told Eddie he tried to dry it and it didn't go well. Quick as hell, Eddie said "You got props? I got props." And he picks up one of those classic beige church-basement steel folding chairs and says, "Don't worry Jerry, I've got something here for you to stand on. I know you need it." Of course, Bailey had Edzo on the defensive for his wagers. Olczyk loves horse racing and it shows.

We met English jockey Sophie Doyle, who rode Street Band to sixth in the Oaks. She's the sister of very highly accomplished rider James Doyle, and her mother, Jacqueline, was once a trainer. She's won nearly $6 million in purse money since coming to the United States in 2011. Even better, she hangs her tack on a regular basis at both Hawthorne and Arlington.

Admittedly, I don't know why I get so excited and cranked up about the Kentucky Derby every year. It's such a kookie race. It's like the NBA allowing two more starters for both teams in the finals.

But this was one memorable Derby, and I do, for now, feel great the stewards made a good and courageous decision.

But with my luck, after they hold the meeting with vital parties on Thursday, they'll find a way to give everyone a trophy.


Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

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