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Flavien Prat ride Country House, left, to the finish line during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Country House was declared the winner after Maximum Security was disqualified following a review by race stewards.
Flavien Prat ride Country House, left, to the finish line during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Country House was declared the winner after Maximum Security was disqualified following a review by race stewards.|Matt Slocum | Associated Press
Thoroughbreds

Ross: The 2019 Kentucky Derby controversy is a gift from above

Steve Ross

Steve Ross

The most majestic horse race on the planet is the Kentucky Derby.  It's been termed, "The most exciting two minutes in sports."

And, that's about how long the excitement generally lasts.

When the Derby winner emerges, hope springs eternal (for two weeks, anyway) that we may get to see another Triple Crown Champion. If any other horse wins the Preakness, interest wanes and the Belmont pretty much becomes a "huh?"

That said, there's an age old advertising adage, "Say good things, or, bad things, just say things."

The 2019 Derby - and the controversy surrounding the first ever disqualification of the apparent winner, Maximum Security - is still very much in the public's consciousness. Even people who don't know a furlong from a fur coat, have been asking about the race on social media and elsewhere. It continues to be a lead story on mainstream media. In fact, I've just watched CNN spend a few minutes discussing it. This kind of publicity, is invaluable. It's benefit to the sport incalculable.

Simply stated, horse racing is old school. It's not something that is on the radar screens of the general public - and certainly NOT Millennials. This makes attrition horse racing's arch enemy.  Therefore, with old players dying off, and no new blood to replace them, the handwriting is, clearly, on the wall.

Moreover, horse racing - save for the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup - has, essentially, disappeared from view, as print and electronic media virtually ignore the sport that it once covered with great zeal.

So, what can an industry, crying out for attention, do to get itself noticed?

Enter the 2019 Derby controversy - a timely gift from above. And, the best part is that all of this attention, i.e., publicity, now being focused on horse racing, is FREE (my favorite price!)

My advice to those who don't quite understand what is now taking place, only benefits a sport that is fast becoming an endangered species, is to stop looking a gift horse in the mouth!