Kentucky Derby

Kentucky racing authorities deny Maximum Security’s appeal of Kentucky Derby DQ

See the moment Maximum Security drifted into path of other horses in Kentucky Derby

See a playback of when Maximum Security drifted into the path of other horses on Churchill Downs' track during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 4, 2019.
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See a playback of when Maximum Security drifted into the path of other horses on Churchill Downs' track during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 4, 2019.

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The owner of disqualified Kentucky Derby contender Maximum Security filed an appeal Monday, asking the full Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to review the matter. But racing regulators denied a hearing, saying the stewards’ decisions “is not subject to appeal.”

Attorneys Barry Stilz of Lexington and Karen A. Murphy of New York, acting on behalf of owners Gary and Mary West, appealed the ruling by stewards on Saturday that Maximum Security drifted wide and interfered with other horses in the field.

The appeal alleged “the stewards’ acts in reviewing the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby were arbitrary and capricious and did not comply with applicable administrative regulations. Their determination to disqualify Maximum Security is not supported by substantial evidence.”

The appeal also asked that the race’s $3 million purse monies be placed in an escrow account to prevent payout.

“Given the enormous importance of this race and the unprecedented outcome on Saturday, we ask that the Wests’ complaint, protest, objection, and appeal be heard forthwith by the full Kentucky Horse Racing Commission,” the letter said.

The attorneys also requested copies “of all views considered by the stewards in connection with the decision to disqualify Maximum Security; recordings of all statements made by jockeys, trainers, and others that were obtained and considered by the stewards in reaching that determination; the stewards’ notes concerning and the recording of their nearly 22 minutes of deliberations;” and other potential evidence.

Racing commission general counsel John Forgy replied to Stilz that the Wests are not entitled to a hearing and because their appeal is moot, the request for a stay of the purses also is moot. Forgy reminded Stilz that the Wests agreed to abide by the state’s regulations on racing, including those on stewards’ rulings, when they renewed their licenses in December.

There is no mechanism for appealing a stewards’ race ruling listed in the Kentucky administrative regulations governing horse racing. The regulations say that “the decision of the stewards as to the official order of finish for pari-mutuel wagering purposes is final and no subsequent action shall set aside or alter the official order of finish for the purposes of pari-mutuel wagering.”

Photos from the 2019 Kentucky Derby on May 4, 2019 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. ( Music: www.bensound.com)

Maximum Security finished Saturday’s race in front but, in a historic move for the Derby, was disqualified after stewards reviewed objections filed by two jockeys, who alleged interference. Chief steward Barbara Borden said in a statement Saturday that they “determined the 7 horse (Maximum Security) drifted out and impacted the progress of Number 1 (War of Will), in turn, interfering with the 18 (Long Range Toddy) and 21 (Bodexpress). Those horses were all affected, we thought, by the interference.”

Jockey Luis Saez apparently has not been disciplined by the KHRC for the race. In comments immediately after the race, Saez said the horse had been spooked, possibly by crowd noise.

Country House, the 65-to-1 longshot that had been the second horse across the finish line, was declared the winner. His jockey, Flavien Prat, was one of the jockeys to place an objection with the stewards.

Early Monday morning on the “Today” show, West said he would address the disqualification with an appeal to the Racing Commission.

In the live interview during which he also announced his horse won’t run in the Preakness, West said his team called the stewards to ask to meet Saturday night to talk and they refused, saying they will not show tapes of the incident until Thursday.

West told “Today” that the stewards’ refusal to answer media questions after the race Saturday showed a lack of transparency.

When asked how it felt to win the Kentucky Derby and then have it taken away, West said, “Winning it was the most euphoric thing I probably ever had in our lives and disappointment when they took the horse down for the first time in history.”

“We were stunned, shocked and in total and complete disbelief,” he said.

Kentucky chief steward Barbara Borden describes how she and other stewards came to the conclusion of disqualifying Maximum Security from the win at the 145th Kentucky Derby.

West also criticized the Kentucky Derby for allowing 20 horses in the race rather than 14, saying that the crowded field increases the risk of horses colliding.

West said his horse will not run in the Preakness because there’s no Triple Crown on the line and no reason to “run a horse back in two weeks when you don’t have to.”

Gov. Matt Bevin said Monday that he agreed with the stewards’ decision to disqualify Maximum Security, according to WKYT, the Herald-Leader’s reporting partner.

“Our stewards did the right thing. You go back and look it was remarkably dangerous what happened,” Bevin said.

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