The 145th Kentucky Derby produced one of the most dramatic renewals in its history after the front-running Maximum Security, who passed the post in front of his 18 rivals, was disqualified and placed last. Country House, the 65/1 longshot who reached the line one and three-quarter lengths behind him, was awarded the race.
Gary and Mary West's Maximum Security, a second-crop son of New Year's Day (by Street Cry), carried an unbeaten four-race record into the race, a streak that included the Grade 1 Florida Derby. He led almost every step of the way but hung to his right about two and a half furlongs from home, impeding several rivals, making an enquiry inevitable.
Country House, in contrast, had won just one from six. He chased home War Of Will (seventh tonight and one of those hampered) in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds in February, was only fourth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, then a six-and-three-quarter-length third to Omaha Beach in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby last month.
However, it should be noted that Country House ran in the Kentucky Derby four days before his physical third birthday. It is, therefore, entirely possible that there will be plenty more improvement to come from him and that this may not remain the only Grade 1 win on his record for long.
Maximum Security is even younger – born May 14th – and so he too could be much better than we have seen so far. Autumn and four-year-old rematches between the pair would be fascinating.
Code Of Honour, who was promoted to second, represents the first crop of Frankel's multiple Group 1-winning full-brother Noble Mission (by Galileo), and dual Grade 2 scorer Tacitus, who was moved up to third, is a son of champion sire Tapit (by Pulpit) and multiple Grade 1 star Close Hatches (by First Defence). Both remain colts of considerable potential, as are the race favourite Improbable (by City Zip), Grade 1 scorer Game Winner (by Candy Ride) and the aforementioned War Of Will, who were fourth, fifth and seventh respectively. Japanese raider Master Fencer (by Just A Way) was sixth.
Country House is a son of Ashford Stud stallion Lookin At Lucky (by Smart Strike), a horse whose roll of honour is headed by the almost $6.7 million earner and multiple Grade 1 star Accelerate plus a string of Chilean-bred Grade 1 winners, notably champion and classic heroine Wow Cat. She left the Carlos Urbina stable last year to join the Chad Brown team, easily won the Grade 1 Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park in October and then chased home Monomoy Girl in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs.
The chestnut colt was bred by Austin Paul, he is out of the dual four-year-old winner Quake Lake (by War Chant) and so could be described as being a three-parts brother to his dam's most notable sibling. Breaking Lucky (by Lookin At Lucky) has won the Grade 3 Seagram Cup Stakes at Woodbine and the restricted Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie – the second leg of the Canadian Triple Crown – and the races in which he has been placed include the Grade 1 Clark Handicap, Grade 1 Whitney Stakes and Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap.
Their dam is the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap runner-up Shooting Party (by Sky Classic), a daughter of listed scorer and eight-time winner Ayanka (by Jade Hunter). This makes Country House inbred 3x5x5 to Mr Prospector (by Raise A Native), 4x3 to Danzig (by Northern Dancer), and 4x4 to the influential broodmare No Class (by Nodouble).
The stakes winners who appear under the branches of the fourth generation of his pedigree include some who have done well in Europe, notably the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes heroine and dual Group 1 Sun Chariot Stakes-placed grey Strawberrydaiquiri (by Dansili).
Rimmal (by Bellamy Road) is another member of the family racing in Europe but that Jeremy Noseda-trained three-year-old, a half-sister to the dam of Country House, has shown little aptitude in two starts this year. Those were over a mile at Newmarket and over six furlongs at Redcar and it would be no surprise to see her try the artificial tracks or head across the Atlantic.
Sires & Winners