May 5, 2019
As someone who fancies himself as fairly knowledgeable about thoroughbred racing, here are a few scattered thoughts about yesterday’s race:
1. Lost in the drama of the disqualification of Maximum Security was the fact that that horse ran a sensational race. He set quick fast early fractions while on the lead, covered more ground than he needed to ducking out and then back in on the far turn, was headed by Code of Honor when that horse found an opening on the inside at the top of the stretch, and then came on again, simply out-powering (and out-classing) the rest of the field down the stretch. Not too shabby for a horse whose owners thought so little of him in his debut that they raced him in a $16,000 maiden claiming race.
2. While the stewards probably got it right, the fact of the matter is that the horse that was most affected by Maximum Security was War of Will, whose jockey lodged the foul claim, not Country House, who moved into the winner’s circle from his surprising second-place finish. The foul claim would have made sense if War of Will had finished 6th, since the disqualification of Maximum Security would have moved War of Will into 5th place, which is the lowest place that a horse can finish and still earn some purse money. But War of Will finished 8th. I’m not sure what his connections were trying to accomplish with the foul claim, but the incident did not affect Country House one whit.
3. It will be interesting to see what history might have to say if Maximum Security were to go on to win the Preakness and the Belmont. Might there be racing enthusiasts who would view him as a legitimate Triple Crown winner?
4. Thoroughbred racing may be entering its death throes, but this race will likely be the number one topic of conversation around the proverbial office water cooler on Monday, much more so than if there had been no controversy. And a few extra folks may tune into the Preakness Stakes in a couple of weeks to see if Maximum Security can set things right. The disqualification may have been just what racing needs.