Two years later, a judge's decision in Alberta has altered the order of finish of the 2017 Canadian Derby with the type of ruling that makes one wonder whether a similar scenario could play out with this year's Kentucky Derby controversy.
Justice June Ross this week upheld a decision by the Horse Racing Alberta Appeal Tribunal to disqualify winner Chief Know It All for interference in the stretch with Double Bear, who would cross the wire in a dead-heat for second with Trooper John.
The decision by the tribunal came in June 2018, some 10 months after the running of the Canadian Derby at the now defunct Northlands Park.
According to the Toronto Star, an objection was filed by Double Bear trainer Rodney Cone after the race but it was denied by the board of stewards, which ruled the contact to be incidental and declared Chief Know It All the winner.
However, on appeal months later, the tribunal ruled the stretch interference did cause Double Bear from rightfully winning the Canadian Derby. Therefore, Chief Know It All was taken down and, because Double Bear and Trooper John had dead-heated for second, they were put up as joint winners.
Double Bear owner Sycamore Stables then took issue with this interpretation, claiming Trooper John would have actually finished behind Double Bear without the interference. Justice Ross agreed with this assessment. Double Bear was awarded the outright win followed by Chief Know It All and Trooper John.
Chief Know It All trainer Roberto Diodoro, who has won three Canadian Derby's, was understandably frustrated with the decision.
“It's a joke,” Diodoro told the Toronto Star. “It's very unprofessional how it's been handled right from the starts. It's an embarrassment to horse racing.”
According to the Star, Diodoro would go on to question “the value of the board of stewards if it's ruling can he simply overturned on appeal.”
Could something similar unfold with the disqualification of Maximum Security in this year's Kentucky Derby? Owners Gary and Mary West have filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission requesting Maximum Security be declared the winner and the purse money redistributed after he was disqualified for interference.
A motion filed by the commission to dismiss the lawsuit notes it has no legal basis because state statutes say stewards' decisions are “final” and “not subject to appeal.” Additionally, participation in horse racing is “a privilege and not a personal right.”
From the motion: “Instead, the Wests want this Court to make the call and determine the winner of the Derby — a demand that threatens to transform the 'most exciting two minutes in sports into tedious, protracted litigation. But their mere disagreement is insufficient to support a claim that their Constitutional — or any other — legal rights have been violated.”