Kentucky Derby

Derby trainer: Don’t blame War of Will. Maximum Security cut us off not once but twice.

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.

The trainer of the horse most impacted by Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby said Tuesday that not only did War of Will not cause the problem, the interference actually happened twice in the race.

After Maximum Security owner Gary West told Fox News that he blamed War of Will for causing the problem, trainer Mark Casse sat down to review the NBC video on YouTube, second by second.

What he saw surprised him: Maximum Security actually drifted out twice.

The first time happened going into the turn at the half-mile pole, he said. The second, as the horses turned for home, was worse and was the incident that caused stewards to disqualify Maximum Security’s first-place finish and elevate Country House to the winner’s circle.

“When Mr. West came out and suggested it was actually our horse that caused the issues, I went to YouTube, to the NBC feed, and when I watched it I thought, ‘wait a second, he did the same thing to us prior,’” Casse said. “Then to have the audacity to say War of Will created all the problems.”

War of Will owner Gary Barber issued a statement Tuesday night saying that Maximum Security “caused a major infraction that almost led to a catastrophe and in doing so, denied my horse and others of a better placing.”

While Barber said he could empathize with West’s “pain of losing out,” he said Maximum Security was to blame, and “it is wrong for him to deflect blame anywhere else.

“I am very disappointed that War of Will was deprived of the opportunity to show his best because of Maximum Security, but I painfully accepted that as part of horse racing,” Barber said. “Thankfully, I am glad both War of Will and Maximum Security survived the day unscathed and will be good to race another day!”

Casse broke down the infractions this way:

At 1:57 into the race video, the horses on the lead are moving into the turn, with Maximum Security on the rail and War of Will directly behind.

At 1:57 in the Kentucky Derby video, the horses on the lead are going into the turn. Maximum Security, in the pink silks, is in front on the rail with War of Will, also in pink, behind him. NBC Youtube

At 1:58, Maximum Security begins to veer out, off the rail and across a puddle line in the slop of the track. War of Will moves out, too.

At the 1:59 mark, Maximum Security has moved off the rail and War of Will moves with him, Casse said. NBC Youtube

At 2 minutes, Maximum Security is on the outside of the puddle line, and jockey Luis Saez appears to look back over his right shoulder. “He takes everybody out,” Casse said.

By the 2 minute mark, Maximum Security has moved outside the puddle line, and Casse said it appears jockey Luis Saez is looking back over his right shoulder as all the horses move out. NBC Youtube

At 2:01, Maximum Security is back inside the puddle line. “We have a clear path for the first time and we begin to accelerate,” Casse said.

At the 2:02 mark, Maximum Security is back inside the puddle line. Now War of Will has a clear lane and will begin to accelerate, Casse said. NBC Youtube

At 2:05, War of Will is moving up on the outside of Maximum Security.

At 2:07, Maximum Security moves wide again, this time even further off the rail. This is the event that resulted in the disqualification by the stewards, who said he interfered with multiple horses, including War of Will, Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress. NBC Youtube

At 2:07, Casse said, is “the big event,” where Maximum Security veers out and War of Will is checked again.

Casse won’t go so far as to say that the move by Saez was intentional. “Luis could have been in better control of his horse,” Casse said.

Immediately after the Derby, Saez said, ““I thought I never put anybody in danger. My horse shied away from the noise of the crowd and may have ducked out a little.”

On Tuesday, his agent, Richard Depass declined to comment on Saez’s behalf, saying, “We’re in litigation.”

West indicated Monday evening that he planned to file a lawsuit challenging the disqualification and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission’s refusal to allow an appeal.

For Casse, the case is settled.

Mark Casse, trainer of War of Will, was surprised his horse was being accused of creating problems during the Kentucky Derby.

“In the last 24 hours, I’ve had time to watch a bunch of replays, in fact, I broke down the race from the half-mile pole to the main event. Not only us but others were interfered with prior to that,” Casse said. “Nobody ever said anything about what he did in the turn. He had a position, started moving out watching everybody behind him, and he comes out in front of our horse.

“Mr. West is distraught and I understand that. But in no way did War of Will have anything to do with the actions of Maximum Security,” Casse said. “Not only did Maximum Security bother us in the big event, he herded everybody going into the half-mile pole and caused interference there as well.”