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Suspension of Jockey Recalls Trump Comment on ‘Political Correctness’ in Kentucky Derby

Suspension of Jockey Recalls Trump Comment on 'Political Correctness' in Kentucky Derby
Image by Richard Hurt
Kentucky Derby

President Trump will be hot-to-trot after the latest decision of Kentucky racing authorities to suspend Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez for 15 racing days following the controversial 2019 Kentucky Derby.

Initially declared the winner, the short-odds Maximum Security was upset in favor of 65-1 underdog Country House; the Stewards (as referees are known in horse racing) conferred for 20 minutes. Only the second time in the history of the Kentucky Derby, a winner had been disqualified.

On “Derby Day:, Maximum Security veered out of the inside lane impeding other horses as they competed in the first leg of the Triple Crown. 

Saez has maintained his horse accidentally veered out of its route along the rail. President Trump will likely not be happy with the decision as he found the move to award Country House the winner a disheartening one.

“The Kentuky Derby decision was not a good one. It was a rough & tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby – not even close!?” 

(Note: Trump later corrected the spelling of “Kentucky” in his tweet).

Trump’s instincts maybe in the right place; but, the politically correct thing to do would have been to hand the race to Maximum Security. 

There is little doubt in my mind that Maximum Security was the best horse on the track on May 4th leading the pack from start to finish is a rare path to victory in an elite Triple Crown event like the Kentucky Derby. The fault is not in the horse but, with Saez who failed to control his mount – puddle or not.  

However, giving the race to the favored Maximum Security would have been the politically correct thing to do and sadly something we see in other sports where we see time and time again close calls lean toward favored teams and players especially in high stakes games. Such political correctness in sport is an issue but, not likely to be the case when a 65-1 horse wins. 

Different sports, of course, have different definitions of what a fowl is. Fighting can get you banned from a few games in the MLB or NBA. In hockey just a few minutes in a box, and boxing – fighting is the game.

In 1930, an era long before political correctness, recall that German boxer Max Schmeling (yes, that Max Schmeling) won the heavyweight championship of the world on a foul (in this case a low-blow) thrown by American champion Jack Sharkey.

The 15-day ban on racing against Saez does seem excessive as it will likely mean he cannot participate in Preakness. However, it is meant to underlie the importance of safety in a violent and dangerous sport. Indeed this is the issue at the heart of the matter which is at the heart of the matter – not political correctness after all horse racing is still dealing with an unsavory amount of horse deaths in recent months. Furthermore, despite (or because of ) the low media attention, it receives it is likely the most lethal sport for participants (jockeys) of any sport. 

What is alarming is how political issues or branding often take precedent over safety. Consider the 2003 MLB World Series when the San Francisco Giants employed several of the player’s children as bat boys. Several of them barely escaped injury as Angels players or bounding balls went barreling toward them but, the media went for the feel-good story. 

Back then, of course, there was no Twitter.

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