The stewards correctly applied the rules, as written in Kentucky, when demoting Maximum Security in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.
But would a different set of stewards, perhaps in a different state and with different wording within those rules, have made the same decision? Is it not slightly maddening to think that the rules of racing across North America are different from state to state or province to province?
Imagine if pass interference rules in football or traveling violations in basketball varied depending on the location of the stadium or arena where the game was played. What was pass interference in New Orleans might not be pass interference in Los Angeles.
That is the situation North American racing is faced with, not just when it comes to adjudicating the Kentucky Derby, but every race, every day. Stakeholders do not know what to expect given the variance of the rules.
While North America applies what is known as Category 2 rules - if a horse suffers interference, the interfering horse is placed behind the sufferer of the interference - an alternative is available.
The Category 1 rules philosophy offers a more consistent experience for all involved in racing, while maintaining safety for all participants through an enhanced penalty structure for offending jockeys.
The TIF released "Changing The Rules" in November, and we invite you to revisit the paper, particularly in light of the attention on rules administration following the Derby.
While the full version of this white paper is quite lengthy (at more than 7,000 words), we believe it offers a comprehensive review of a complex situation. Please take the time to read.
"The Kentucky stewards applied the rules of the state appropriately, there should be no question regarding that," says Thoroughbred Idea Foundation Executive Director Pat Cummings. "However, the Category 1 rules philosophy presents a better alternative, not because they are accepted in every other global jurisdiction, but because they are much easier to understand for all involved and present a more consistent experience to our customers.
"It is a preferable alternative to our current system and implements a proper system of deterrents through an enhanced penalty structure designed to maintain safety of all participants."