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Luis Saez rides Maximum Security to the finish line first against Flavien Prat on Country House during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Country House was declared the winner after Maximum Security was disqualified following a review by race stewards. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Luis Saez rides Maximum Security to the finish line first against Flavien Prat on Country House during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Country House was declared the winner after Maximum Security was disqualified following a review by race stewards. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)|Associated Press
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Opinion: Washington Post learns the hard way it’s not official until it’s official

Rush to call winner of Kentucky Derby leads to embarrassing email blast

Howard Gensler

Howard Gensler

This is tangentially related to sports betting but it's been one of my pet peeves over the years -- since the 24-hour news cycle begat Facebook which begat Twitter and the ever-speeding need to be first.

Hey, everybody likes a scoop, but can't we all just take a breath.

Normally, this need for speed is best exemplified by a shooting or some other crisis in which breathless reports start giving numbers of dead or wounded, which are then repeated on social media and commented upon and amplified and argued about and those numbers almost always turn out to be wrong -- things usually turn out to be either not as bad or much worse.

But a less tragic -- although serious and perfect example of jumping the gun -- occurred when the Washington Post sent an email blast at 6:57:15 pm EDT Saturday with the headline: "News Alert: Maximum Security wins the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby."

We get it, horses forbid that you're scooped by the New York Times on this, although 99 percent of people who care about the race were watching it, but the Derby wasn't official yet and until the race is official and bettors can cash their winning tickets, no horse has officially won anything.

At 7:22.15 came this: "News Alert: Correction: Country House wins the Kentucky Derby after objection leads to disqualification of Maximum Security."

So here's a tip from a longtime resident of newsrooms: Let the event happen. Then report it. We don't the need the whole nation to be like the students at Auburn running around their campus celebrating their win over Virginia.