Kentucky Derby controversy

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

6 May 2019

Kentucky Derby controversy – a good thing for the sport?

In boxing, controversy just primes the mob to yell, “We wanna a rematch!” In horse racing, with the Kentucky Derby controversy providing an unsatisfactory result, the same thing is happening.

Wherever you land on the decision to give Country House the victory, the Kentucky Derby controversy leaves you believing the race didn’t really end. It’s like a split decision in boxing. One boxer feels he was robbed. The other knows he can’t get the respect he needs unless there’s a rematch of his win.

In boxing, that leads to more hype for the second go-round. Of course, boxing’s problem was the sport became the boy who cried wolf too much. Eventually, most of us moved onto other sports.

Kentucky Derby controversyFor the Kentucky Derby, this is new sod. Never in the previous 144 years of the race has the winner been disqualified. Yet, for an excoriating 20 minutes or so, the outcome was in doubt. Even though we all saw Maximum Security cross the finish line first.

Kentucky Derby controversy leads to more interest

I’m no expert in horse racing. Like most of us, the Triple Crown races are about all I ever see. But the Kentucky Derby controversy might actually be good for the sport. Yes, imagine the ratings now for the Preakness in two weeks.

Those who support Maximum Security’s non-victory will certainly want to see redemption. And, considering Maximum Security was the favorite on Saturday, that includes most people.

“But before you bemoan that this will doom horse racing for good, just think a little bit like the shameless boxing promoter Don King. In sports, controversy can be a good thing. The rematch is coming.”

Horse racing will never recapture the popularity it held in the pre-WWII days. Back then, baseball, boxing and horse racing were the nation’s most popular sports. All three struggle in today’s sports climate.

So, no, I don’t expect the Kentucky Derby controversy to ignite a resurgence in the sport. If last year’s Triple Crown winner can’t do it, then nothing can.

But before you bemoan that this will doom horse racing for good, just think a little bit like the shameless boxing promoter Don King. In sports, controversy can be a good thing. The rematch is coming.

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