Social Discourse: 7th May 2019

It was a week with just about everything that racing can give, writes William Kedjanyi. But there’s really just one place to start for this Special Edition of Social Discourse. To the land of the Free and The Home of The Brave, because where else would we go?


  1. Maximum Disqualification

It all looked so simple. The winner of the Kentucky Derby was Maximum Security, who was always on the front end and then kicked on down the straight, having received a canny ride from Luis Saez to become another unbeaten horse to win the Derby, in the process providing a first victory in the great race for stalwart racing supporters, Gary and Mary West.



And then the objection came.



Recap: You may know this by now, but one more time for fun: as the field made their way around the final turn, Maximum Security stepped out, nearly bringing down War Of Will, and ended the chances of the retreating Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress, who were squeezed and stopped respectively.

Country House, coming widest of all and passing horses, was forced to go even wider, but wasn’t stopped in his momentum like the others. Down the straight, Maximum Security kicked on, and the Derby was won – or so we thought.

The stewards were on the scene, and so were the tweets.


20 minutes passed, with stewards looking at five separate angles, although it felt like an hour given the tension involved.


And then, the announcement.


By now, what had seemed like a – by Kentucky Derby standards – relatively normal renewal was engraved in the history books when the PA at Churchill Downs announced that, for the first time in the race’s history, the winner had been disqualified.


People had opinions:


The technical stuff: The ruling that made the difference: “a leading horse or any other horse in a race swerves or is ridden to either side so as to interfere with, intimidate, or impede any other horse or jockey.”


People Had More Opinions:


The Right Call?

Most observers – from what yours truly was able to see – were firmly against the decision, but a couple of voices do think it was the right call. Indeed, some of them even shared their thoughts with us:

“Personally, I had backed the 1 horse, War Of Will.  He was coming with his run and got smashed by Maximum Security – it effectively stopped him and another horse – then he veered back down and bumped Code of Honor, and then went back into War Of Will, who knocked into Country house. CH has suffered the least out of the horses. But in American racing every day of the week that gets stood down. In the UK some will agree or disagree that the result would have stood. In France, he would be placed behind the affected horses. Was he the best horse in the race? Probably, but you wouldn’t know for sure, and given that he then drifts across the lanes down the track to finish as well? In my opinion, he cost one horse a place minimum. It was hard to watch the winner get taken down, but I said he’d lose it as he crossed the line. Universal rules needed? Maybe.”

Mick Doonan (@tensovs2kg)


“I was going to stay quiet about this but have been getting a few texts and messages so might as well jump into the fire … I think the Kentucky Derby DQ was the right call. While I think it should have been DQ’ed on a steward’s inquiry instead of a rider objection, the sport is in a pivotal spot right now. Leaving a horse up when he made a dangerous move like that just because it was the Derby would have sent the wrong message in a time when our message/sport is already being questioned.

I do however think Country House is the luckiest creature alive right now. He wasn’t impacted by the whole thing but did get the win because of it. That’s the definition of lucky – but he also put himself in a spot to finish second (and ultimately get promoted) so luck and talent both played a part.”

Melissa Bauer-Herzog 


They weren’t the only ones who did actually agree with the call, either: 

Of course, one person who is notoriously short on opinions is the quiet and easy-going US president, Donald Trump. Naturally he had a take on this, and of course, he made a typo in his first tweet, which he had to delete (we’ve all been there) 




Winners Closer to Home

The result wasn’t a shock to everyone, though. Our very own editor had flagged the chance of Country House as a late runner tied into the (absent ante-post favourite) Omaha Beach / Improbable (favourite on the day) form – Country House had run 3rd from an impossible position behind them on a sloppy track in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, a key prep for Churchill Downs.


Taking The Ball and Going Home 

Gary West – remember him? – told NBC’s Today Show that:

  • Firstly, he’d appeal the decision:
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  • Secondly (see above), Maximum Security wouldn’t be going to the Preakness, with the Triple Crown off the line: “When you’re not going for the Triple Crown, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to wheel the horse back in two weeks,” West said to the AP


Don’t Forget: In a race where the early speed was strong but Luis Saez and others cannily cooled it down the back straight, a number of horses ran very well from behind. Tacticus, the more fancied Bill Mott runner, did a fine job to be the first of the held up horses, passing four horses in the final furlong. The future is bright for him.

Don’t give up on Game Winner, who was bodyslammed leaving the gate and ended up second last around the first turn, sat more than five lengths off the back. He made two big moves, the first to catch up to the field, and then the second to come widest of all round the third turn, and he then closed almost as well as Tacticus to finish sixth (placed fifth). He’s still got a big future.

Master Fencer was even further behind, having also been affected by the barging match at the stalls, and he took a long time to get going but when he closed he was lethal, with his final quarter-mile split of 24.31 seconds is the fastest by any horse in a Kentucky Derby since Animal Kingdom’s sub-24 final quarter in 2011.


  1. Luck of the Draw

In case you’d forgotten, there were four other Classics that took place over the weekend, and the feature event of Saturday afternoon – the 2,000 Guineas – went the way of Aidan O’Brien yet again as Magna Grecia ran out a comprehensive winner from King Of Change and Skardu.

Except visually, that wasn’t the case at all, as Magna Grecia was two and a half lengths clear of King Of Change and Shine So Bright, with the three having dominated the Guineas as a lone trio down by the near side from the very start.



Shine So Bright, who had previously won The Free Handicap, made the running at a brisk pace, ensuring Magna Grecia and King Of Change had a good tow, but with 16 going down the middle and only three down the near side, it’s fair to assume that most people would have been happier to have their horse in the bigger group. But that was not how it turned out.

Let’s just say that plenty of people noticed what was up.

Meanwhile, In The Centre: In all of this, it should not be forgotten that there were a number of excellent runs. Skardu actually won the race down the middle, just beating Madhmoon to the post for third and fourth respectively. Ten Sovereigns, who was heavily backed into 9/4 favourite, was in front of them with half a furlong to go, but was just run out of things late on – he’s set to go sprinting again, a tremendously exciting prospect as the Middle Park winner is likely to prove tough to beat amongst the speedsters.

Great Scot, the subject of a number of tips – yours truly included – during the week, came out just a touch too keen, and probably ran better than a position of 9th suggested. He might want a drop back in trip whilst Kick On, the Feilden Stakes winner, will go well at ten furlongs and further.

Onwards: Advertise disappointed when running no sort of race but he’s already got his passport stamped for Paris, with the French Guineas next.


  1. The Walsh Memories

8,692 days.

Over 2,500 winners.

Over 200 Grade 1 winners.

11 Cheltenham Festival Jockeys’ Titles.

59 Festival winners.

Seven Punchestown Gold Cups.

Six Punchestown Champion Hurdles.

Five Supreme Novices’ Hurdles.

Four Ryanair Chases.

Three Arkles.

Two Grand Nationals.

One Ruby Walsh.


After taking yet another Grade 1 victory, aboard Kemboy in the Punchestown Gold Cup, Walsh bowed out right at the top, and tributes from the jumping world flowed on in. Readers of this newsletter will have a huge amount of Walsh memories – I mean who doesn’t? And I’ve shared some of the best here.


  1. The Town Like No Other

All last week at Punchestown there were more Grade 1’s than there were pints of Guinness to be drunk (OK, maybe not quite), and a number of highlights.

On Saturday, Fusil Raffles took the Four-Year-Old Champion Hurdle, atoning for the cut he picked up in the Adonis.


Benie Des Dieux put a dramatic fall at Cheltenham behind her to lead home a whitewash for Willie Mullins in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Annie Power Mares Champion Hurdle


On Friday, Buveur D’Air bounced back when storming to success in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle


Colin Tizzard ended his season on a high when Reserve Tank won the Grade 1 Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle, jumping the last well to get the better of Sams Profile, as Ballymore Hurdle winner City Island disappointed


The extremely exciting Chacun Pour Soi dominated an extremely exciting renewal of the Ryanair Chase and had Willie Mullins as excited as we’ve seen it. A lot of excitement!


Harry Fry’s Unknowhatimeanharry rolled back the years to win the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle, beating Bacardys and Bapaume in a thrilling finish


Colreevy came back to the Festival for the second time as a Bumper horse, giving Willie Mullins yet another Punchestown Champion Bumper, beating off three Gigginstown horses in the process


Minella Indo gave Rachael Blackmore another big winner as he doubled up on his Albert Bartlett win in the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle, beating Allaho and Carefully Selected


Delta Work handed a big compliment to his RSA conquerors as he sauntered home in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase, smashing Discorama and A Plus Tard


Un de Secaux also rolled back the years to get the better of Min by four lengths in an emotional Champion Chase


Klassical Dream confirmed his Supreme Novices’ form with Felix Desjy, winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle with ease


And, of course, Kemboy gave Ruby Walsh a fantastic second off in the battle of Willie Mullins’ Grade 1 chasers in the Punchestown Gold Cup, claiming the scalp of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Al Boum Photo


  1. Elsewhere

Phew! It was a busy week… Elsewhere, Aidan O’Brien completed his fourth Guineas double – taking both the 1000 and 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in the same year – with Hermosa’s all the way victory over Lady Kaya in the 1,000 Guineas complementing Magna Grecia’s triumph the previous day. The daughter of Galileo, who was one of four Ballydoyle runners in the field, fought hardest to repel fellow Irish raider, Lady Kaya, and the fast-finishing Roger Varian-trained Qabala


The Kentucky Oaks was won by Serengeti Empress, who grabbed the early lead and wasn’t for passing despite a spirited late challenge from Liora, as a number of favoured contenders disappointed


On the same card, Newspaperofrecord, the extremely impressive winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filles Turf, suffered a shock defeat in the Edgewood Stakes after setting extremely strong fractions and then being run down by Concrete Rose


The picture for the Oaks (the British version) is developing quickly, following not only Hermosa’s win but also Maqsad’s domination of the Pretty Polly Stakes, smashing the Fillies Mile fourth, Shambolic


Communique received a brilliant ride from Silvestre de Sousa to get the better of Defoe when springing an upset in the Jockey Club Stakes

Mabs Cross made a brilliant return in the Palace House Stakes, defying a penalty to get the better of Equilateral by a neck, with Sergei Prokofiev a running on fourth


Calyx maintained his unbeaten record with a superb return in the Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes at Ascot, and he will now go for the Commonwealth Cup itself at Royal Ascot


Dee Ex Bee made an impressive debut as a stayer when he ran out a ready winner of the Sagaro Stakes, earning himself quotes as short as 12/1 for the Gold Cup at the Royal meeting


Ventura Rebel shocked odds-on favourite Lady Pauline in the Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Conditions Stakes at Ascot, outstaying the American raider to make it two from two.


Magical is now unbeaten in two this term after taking the Mooresbridge Stakes, beating Flag of Honour again (also 1-2 in the Alleged Stakes).


On the same card, Ickworth was an impressive winner of the the First Flier Stakes, sprinting away from the 2/5 favourite and previous Dundalk winner, King Neptune


Shelir came with a wet sail to take the Tetrarch Stakes, retaining her own unbeaten record in the process, and might be headed to the Irish 2,000 Guineas


Happen came from last to first to steal the Athasi Stakes on the line, with Ryan Moore in inspired form to get her home by a neck from Dan’s Dream; she will now head to the Irish 1,000 Guineas


And that’s us up to date on what was a stellar week of action on both sides of the globe and on both sides of the codes. Stay tuned for more of the same next week. For now, though, this is William Kedjanyi going for a long lie down…


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