Churchill Downs announcer recalls communicating Derby disqualification

Kentucky Derby track announcer recalls historic disqualification

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The historic Kentucky Derby disqualification of Maximum Security led Country House to the title.

Those people holding on to their tickets had to wait about 20 minutes to find out the result.

High above Churchill Downs was the man who delivered the news -- track announcer Travis Stone.

Stone said his fifth Derby was a tough one to call.

"I knew they were going to make a lot of far turn moves, but holy cow, they were coming from every which direction," Stone said.

Stone eventually tracked the pack to the final stretch.

“It’s Maximum Security digging down deep,” Stone announced. “Country House continues to close on the outside, but Maximum Security at the peak of perfection in the Kentucky Derby.”

Travis Stone was relieved with the race was over and he celebrated on video shared by the track. (Source: Churchill Downs)
Travis Stone was relieved with the race was over and he celebrated on video shared by the track. (Source: Churchill Downs)

Stone said he was relieved as the race came to a close and he high-fived those standing in the booth with him, but then he got a communication from the race steward.

"Riders objection concerning the top two finishers, hold all tickets," Stone told the crowd.

Stone said he dismissed the objection at first -- no winners had been disqualified from an in-race action during the Kentucky Derby before.

“I did not see it when it happened live, saw it on the replay though,” Stone said. “And, then, all of a sudden, it was like five minutes, eight minutes, 10 minutes.”

The gravity of the historic moment then hit.

“OK, OK,” Stone said to others as he was trying to grasp what was happening. “So, seven is disqualified from first?”

Maximum Security, the horse that crossed the finish line first, was no longer the Kentucky Derby champion.

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He’d be telling the crowd below, many of them betting on what was one of the race favorites.

"My first thought was don't screw it up," Stone said. "This is no moment where you provide drama and excitement. This is matter of fact, be a reporter, tell them the facts and be done."

Country House ended up the victor in the Kentucky Derby due to an unprecedented disqualification. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Country House ended up the victor in the Kentucky Derby due to an unprecedented disqualification. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

Stone did just that.

“Once again, number seven, Maximum Security, disqualified,” Stone said over the speakers at Churchill Downs.

Stone said he can never predict what the Derby will throw at him.

“Day-in and day-out you don’t hear much outside," Stone said. "I heard this crowd.”

In video released by Churchill Downs, Stone can be seen taking it all in after announcing the decision.

“Well, I never thought I’d see that,” Stone said in the video. “Wow.”

That candid reaction, coming from the same voice that sparked ecstasy and agony at the track as history was being hashed out on the first Saturday in May.

Stone said he believes the decision was a tough one, but added race stewards did the right thing.

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