A Derby to end all Derbies By Ken Adams, CDC Gaming Reports May 16, 2019 at 1:00 pm The May 4th Kentucky Derby was first of three horse races that constitute the Triple Crown. It was squeezed into a very busy weekend that included Cinco de Mayo, the beginning of Ramadan, the National Hockey League championships and the NBA finals. Horse racing seldom makes the national news, except for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. There are other stakes, cups and derbies that make news in their neighborhood, but do not rise to national notice. The Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont are exceptions because they are connected by a trophy and a mystique. Only 13 horses in the last 145 years have won all three races in the same year. That fact has created the mystique. Every year, the Kentucky Derby aficionados are on the lookout for that special horse with the potential to win the coveted trophy. This year was no exception. After the Arkansas Derby on April 13th a very promising candidate surfaced, Omaha Beach. He looked very strong in the win and it was his third win in a row. That was enough to make him the favorite for the Kentucky Derby. People immediately started predicting Omaha Beach would go on to win the other jewels in the crown. Sadly however, the day after Omaha Beach became the favorite to win the Kentucky derby he was scratched due to a breathing obstruction that required surgery. Immediately the odds makers put Game Winner into the favored position with Roadster and Improbable close behind. And thus they stood when Derby Day dawned. Unfortunately for the fans, jockeys and horses, it was very wet day at the track. The track was wet, muddy and slippery. Rain is not great for racing, but it doesn’t call for cancellation. It was wet and muddy last year when Justify won the Derby and went on to win the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Justify became the 13th horse in history to win the Triple Crown. This year, County House won, but he will not follow in Justify’s footsteps. Country House is sick and was pulled from the Preakness, ending any chance of a Triple Crown this year. Still, without or without a candidate for the crown, the Preakness and Belmont will be run. Thousands of people will be there to see the horses run. For the fans, the major races are pure theater. It is an opportunity to wear interesting hats, drink a little too much and place a wager or two. They are the horse racing version of the annual Met Gala. The races will be televised, but they will not attract the attention afforded to this year’s Kentucky Derby. The 2019 Kentucky Derby set records for wager and viewing. The wagering reached $250 million and 150,729 people were in the stands. The attendance was not a record, but the television audience was gigantic. The television audience this year was 20 percent larger than last year and the most since 1992. Even without a strong favorite, viewers were primed for a potential Triple Crown candidate. The race did not produce what fans wanted, but it did deliver drama. The Kentucky Derby was won by an unlikely 65.1 underdog. At least that is what the stewards determined after looking at the tapes for 21 minutes. The actual winner on the track, Maximum Security was disqualified for veering widely across the track and nearly causing a pile up. It was the first time in Derby history that the winner of the race was disqualified. Maximum Security was clearly the best horse in the race and led the entire race. All of the jockeys in the race were covered with mud from the horse in front of them, except Maximum Security’s rider, Luis Saez. He was squeaky clean and mud-free as no horse was ever in front of him. Saez is a seasoned jockey with 12,576 starts, 2,162 wins and $101.9 million in winnings. However, Saez was not so good or clean in the mind of some of post-race analysts. It is thought, he might have pulled his horse in sooner. Gary West, the owner of Maximum Security is furious; he appealed, but was rejected. Now he is threatening to sue. West may or may not prevail in a court of law. But Maximum Security will not be in the Preakness and cannot become the 14th horse to win the Triple Crown. County House did run a very good race. He appears to be a much better horse than handicappers thought before the Derby. But he too will not be at Pimlico seeking the middle jewel of the crown. The best racing fans can hope for now is a horse that wins the Preakness, Belmont and goes on to win the Breeder’s Cup. Although, it is not the Triple Crown, it would mark a horse for greatness. Alternatively, the Preakness might end with a disqualification, creating another major media event. The disqualification at the Kentucky Derby created more theater than any of the hats, outfits or outlandish behavior. It has generated more debate, replays and speculation than any Derby winner. The debate and analysis promise to continue right up to race time on May 18th in Baltimore. The odds have not been posted yet, not for horses or for a disqualification.