Hey, did you hear? There was a DQ in the Kentucky Derby...... of the winner. I feel like typing that again, because I am sure you were as shocked as I was.
In the vast history of the 145 year rough and tumble event - where you can find a foul probably four times a year if you look hard enough - there have been a grand total of five inquiries (not a typo). One was allowed (a fourth, placed fifth) and the rest were let stand, including a 1933 claim where the jockeys were trying to beat each other up down the lane.
Why has it always been like that?
I spoke with a newbie about it, where she asked "it was a foul right, so he had to come down?". I told her a simple story.
It's the last play of the Super Bowl, millions of dollars and glory are at stake; millions are watching on television. The Hail Mary occurs and the ball floats to the end zone.
I asked her, "is there pass interference?"
She said, "yes, really bad interference. It's laughable"
"And it's not called, because.... "
"They don't want to change the result."
In modern Thoroughbred racing, this occurs in a lot of big grade I races. My personal favorite was Goldikova in the '11 Mile, where she wiped out almost the entire field and was left up, but there are many, and I'm sure you have a favorite or two of your own. It's maddening because oftentimes it is dangerous, but they let the horses decide.
Much of this was covered in an excellent book called Scorecasting. It's just the way it is.
This year, the stewards, for some reason, decided to inject themselves into the outcome. And I, for one, am left wondering why.
Why did they do something they've never done for an in-race infraction, ever? That is, DQ a winner who was pretty clearly much the best?
Sports - with both participants and customers - is expectation. We expect a mauling on Hail Marys, and we expect half the field to get mugged in the Kentucky Derby. When the officials call things differently, they enter the spotlight, and it's inevitable - they'll have a lot of explaining to do.
Have a nice Sunday everyone.
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