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By Karla Pomeroy

Karla's Kolumn: Win or lose, it was the right call


May 9, 2019

I was watching the Kentucky Derby on Saturday when a NASCAR race broke out.

I know you're expecting a political column or words of wisdom here instead of a sports column, but rest assured we'll get there.

Saturday was the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown. I'm not a big fan of horse racing. I watch the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, but mainly in memory of my mother who loved watching those three races. (P.S. Happy Mother's Day up in heaven Mom. I miss you.)

An advantage to watching horse races is that they are short so there's not a lot of time invested in watching. It's not like watching the Coca-Cola 600 that seems to last forever.

I like to root for underdogs or for a first-time winner. Rarely do I root for the favorite, so, yes, I was rooting against Maximum Security.

Maximum Security took the lead early and just as War of Will starts closing in and trying to take the lead ... here's the NASCAR race ... Maximum Security moves over to block. OK, the jockey said the horse got spooked by the crowd. In my mind it looked like a block Kyle Busch would have gotten frustrated over.

But watch closely. As Maximum Security moved out away from the rail in front of War of Will - creating what was eventually ruled as interference with War of Will, Long Range Toddy and Country House - Code of Thunder moves quickly up the rail and nearly takes the lead but ... again here comes the NASCAR move ... Maximum Security moves back to the rail, essentially blocking Code of Thunder, and now you have Joey Logano upset (another NASCAR reference).

Right after the race my husband and I talked about the blocking and he remarked there would be a challenge. He was right.

Apparently you can block, or your car can get spooked by the crowd, in NASCAR, but not in horse racing. Interference/blocking is against the rules.

It doesn't matter if you like the rules or not, rules are rules and usually in place to protect players (jockeys and horses).

I have a friend who is an avid horse racing fan so I texted her and asked what her thoughts were after the race. She said it was sad. "I'm so sick for the jockey, but the horse did come out," she texted.

She understands racing. She understands the rules.

But there sure have been some fair-weather fans come out with this Derby, including our own President Donald Trump. His tweet about the Derby and the ruling being wrong and blaming it on political correctness is a head-scratcher for sure.

People have blamed the weather instead of the horse, people have blamed everything else except the horse and jockey.

You can blame anyone you want, rules are rules, politically correct or not, good weather or not.

Everyone needs to follow the rules and it doesn't matter if you break them intentionally or accidentally (in case the horse was actually spooked).

Many a NASCAR team that didn't pass inspection have stated the errors were unintentional or an oversight.

President Trump said the best horse won the race but did he? Was Maximum Security really the best horse? Would War of Will have passed him had he not come out from the rail? Would Code of Honor had won had MS not went back to the rail?

We don't know. We can't say the best horse won or lost the Derby because of the interference.

Lost in all of this is the horse that was making the best charge against Maximum Security, War of Will, who finished seventh, after the disqualification.

Perhaps he was the best horse in the race, but getting kicked twice didn't help his efforts.

The Derby ruling reminds me of all those fans who complain when a ref calls a foul late in the basketball game, or an interference call in football. They want the calls during the game just not late in the game.

Unless, of course, the calls go in your team's favor and then it is good the refs make the calls consistently through the game.

With the derby, three stewards made the unanimous call to disqualify Maximum Security.

Despite what many have said, I agree. It was the right call.

There will be no Triple Crown winner this year with Country House pulling out due to illness. That's OK. Triple Crowns are rare and that feat should be rare. It shouldn't be easy.

So what do we take away from all this controversy? Whether you win, or whether you lose, it is important to play by the rules and to do so graciously.

Maximum Security owners pulling the horse from the other Triple Crown races just because he has no chance of winning the crown seems like poor sportsmanship to me.

Why not show the world he is the best horse? Maybe because he is not?

And, one wonders if there would have even been this controversy if the original favorite, Omaha Beach, hadn't had to scratch.

We also learn that President Trump is wrong. Just because you may be the best doesn't mean your entitled to the victory.

Sometimes, you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes you get lucky, like Country House, who was in the right place at the right time.

Speaking of luck, another NASCAR reference, I have seen many times, a wreck happens at the right time and someone grabs the win, someone who didn't lead any lap except the last and most important one.

Don't hate Country House for getting the win, he did race to second after all, until the disqualification. Sometimes you're lucky. Sometimes you're good. Sometimes you're both.

That's why they play the game. That's why they run the race.


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