LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- It was certainly expected that California racing would influence the Kentucky Derby. It's just nobody figured jockey Flavien Prat would be one of the central figures Saturday.
Prat was one of two jockeys who objected to Maximum Security's run along the far turn leading to the first disqualification in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby. Prat was riding runner-up Country House, a 65-to-1 shot who was placed first after Maximum Security was taken down.
Prat said the actions of Maximum Security affected his horse even though the stewards didn't mention it and it was difficult to see on replays.
"We never made contact (with Maximum Security) because there were horses between us," Prat said. "The horse on my inside hit the hip on my horse, so it kind of turned me sideways. And it's at the quarter-pole, where actually I was making a run and I kind of lost momentum."
Clearly, Country House was the least affected of the horses.
"It may have affected it slightly, but I am going to say that it affected the two other horses dramatically," said Country House trainer Bill Mott, who won his first Kentucky Derby. "If what happened to us was the only thing they we're looking at, I don't think you would have seen a disqualification.
"But it was mainly the other two horses that got bothered the worst and they lost all chance. And those two horses lost their opportunity to win or place in the Kentucky Derby."
Whatever the degree of interference, it did nothing to deter the spirit of a very happy Prat. Earlier in the year, he was the regular rider of Omaha Beach, but he was taken off the mount. Mike Smith ended up with the colt, who was the morning-line favorite until scratching Wednesday because of a minor throat condition.
"It felt pretty good actually," Prat said after the race. "It's a great moment. It's a dream come true. Coming from Europe, Breeders' Cup was a bigger deal for me. But as soon as I was here the first time, I was in the grandstands and I watched this race, and it's amazing.
"I mean, there is no race like the Kentucky Derby. And I was hoping to one day ride in the Derby, and to win it. And it's done today. I'm really happy and blessed."