The Year of Bad Officiating: Why the Kentucky Derby Disqualification might actually be a good thing

Whether you are a fan of horse racing or not, I am sure you have heard by now about the controversial disqualification in the 2019 Kentucky Derby that took a win off the board from Maximum Security. You may ask, why should I care if I am not a horse racing fan? If you love sports in general, you just may reap the rewards of better officiating of all professional sports in the near future due to this controversial decision. I’ll explain.

The owners of Maximum Security are filing a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court seeking to overturn the race stewards’ decision and make Maximum Security the official winner as well as receiving the $1.86 million winner’s share.

Although some believe that this court case will be thrown out, I think the case will be heard. The Kentucky Derby is simply too high-profile of a race, with too much money bet on it, for this case to not to be heard. Even President Trump tweeted his disdain over the disqualification. Not hearing the case would only invite corruption to a sport that had issues in the past with doping and organized crime affecting race outcomes. Bettors are consumers and it is the government’s responsibility to protect consumers.

With sports-betting on the verge of sweeping the country after New Jersey won a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court last year, a bad call or disqualification just doesn’t affect Vegas vacationers, it is going to affect many more Americans in the future.

The public needs to be protected from fraud. As sports-betting grows, there is going to be more upward pressure to “get it right” because professional sporting events will be viewed as more than just entertainment. We may already be there at this point now when you consider the recent FBI probe into college basketball.

This is why this court case may actually be a very good thing for the fans and athletes in all sports. If Maximum Security’s ownership group wins their court case, the next step will be refunding money to all those who had placed bets on Maximum Security. It may take a class action lawsuit, but bettors will get their money back if Maximum Security’s win is restored.

This will force professional sports leagues to improve officiating out of fear of future lawsuits. Yes, that includes the NFL which is still reeling from the controversial non-call in the Saints-Rams NFC Championship game. The New Orleans Saints most likely win that game and advance to the Super Bowl if Pass Interference had been called by the referee who standing in plain view of the incident.

And the NHL for those who watched last night’s Sharks-Blues game. The San Jose Sharks were the Game 7 beneficiary of a bad call in the 1st round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs vs the Vegas Golden Knights. The NHL even apologized to the Vegas Golden Knights and their fanbase over the 5 minute Major penalty for Cross-Checking that should have been a 2 minute minor at most. And now last night’s game (see video below). How the NHL can review goals to see if the play was offsides but can’t review a goal scored via an illegal hand pass (that the refs missed) is beyond me.

Interesting and timely, Fan Duel Sportsbook has refunded all Moneyline bets made on St Louis over this controversial finish. See

It may force the sport of horse racing to require Race Stewards to have actual experience as a jockey and not just as an exercise rider who attends a school to be a Race Steward.

Overall, I expect to see more video review and better officiating in all sports if Maximum Security’s ownership group successfully wins their court case. The technology is certainly there and a landmark ruling could set a precedent for similar sports related court cases in the future.

For professional sports leagues, there would be too much to lose other than integrity and some television ratings if poor officiating alters outcomes and generates court cases and lawsuits.

For this reason, we all should hope that Maximum Security’s owners win their case and his Derby win is restored.

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