Some things about last Saturday's 145th running of the Kentucky Derby may never be crystal clear, including what caused Maximum Security to veer out on the final turn, causing interference to several horses and leading to the unprecedented disqualification of Gary and Mary West's homebred colt from first to 17th place.
One area of confusion involves Flavien Prat, the native of France who rode Country House to a second-place finish, then was placed first upon the disqualification of Maximum Security.
When did Prat claim foul against Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez, and was he prompted to do so by Country House's trainer, Bill Mott?
On Sunday morning, Jay Privman, national correspondent for Daily Racing Form, reported on Twitter that Prat “asked the outrider to put a hold on the race, which was communicated to stewards.”
That same day, Tim Layden, writing for Sports Illustrated, said, “Mott said Sunday morning that it was he who encouraged Prat to claim foul after Jose Ortiz, the jockey on Mott's other horse, third-place finisher Tacitus, told him that Maximum Security, 'has to come down.'”
Privman and Layden are experienced, extremely well respected journalists who are known for their accuracy. Is it possible both of them were correct?
Marc Guilfoil, executive director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, when asked about the timeline of Prat's objection, relayed a series of text messages to the Paulick Report from chief steward Barbara Borden.
“Outrider Lee Lockwood confirmed that he was the one who relayed the claim of foul to us by radio while the horses were still on the backside. He says that Prat pulled up and turned around, found him and said that (either the winner, or number 7—he wasn't sure which he said) came out on the turn and that he wanted to claim foul.
“We had not yet started to review the video but rather were selecting the horses to send to the test barn when we got the radio transmission, and posted the objection on the board.”
In the chaotic aftermath of a race with 19 horses returning to be unsaddled and a scrum of media taking pictures and asking questions, Mott, after being told about the incident by Ortiz, may have encouraged Prat to file an objection while unaware his rider had already done so.
Following Saturday's final race, Borden read a statement to the media regarding the disqualification, including the fact that a second rider, Jon Court aboard Long Range Toddy, also claimed foul. She did not indicate when those objections were made or why stewards had not posted an inquiry on their own.
She declined to take questions from the media, which only added to the confusion.
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