Kentucky Derby

Maximum Security’s jockey appeals suspension, says stewards ignored claim against War of Will

Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez has filed appeal of his 15-day suspension and has asked for a stay of the suspension, which was scheduled to start on May 23 and last through June 14.

On Monday, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission suspended Saez for his ride in the Kentucky Derby on Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line first but was disqualified from winning. The stewards ruled that Saez was at fault “for failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course thereby causing interference with several rivals that resulted in the disqualification of his mount.”

In documents filed on Thursday with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Saez stated several reasons for the appeal including that “the stewards’ ruling is in error, it is unsupported by facts and the law.”

On Wednesday, Maximum Security’s owners, Gary and Mary West, sued the racing commission and stewards in federal court arguing the same thing. The Wests are seeking to overturn the stewards ruling, have Maximum Security declared the winner of the 145th Derby and be awarded the winner’s share of $3 million in purse monies.

According to his attorney, Ann Oldfather, Saez has several mounts scheduled for Belmont Park during that period. “In all likelihood, Luis Saez will have as many as to 5 rides on every one of the days for the ordered suspension,” the request for the stay states. “Without a stay, Luis Saez will suffer the penalty imposed by the stewards regardless of whether the commission or the courts later determine that the stewards ruling should be reversed and vacated.”

According to Saez’s filing, “stewards were presented with a timely claim of foul by another jockey against the jockey of #1 War of Will. That claim of foul is not mentioned after the race, and that jockey was not interviewed by the stewards on the day of the race. The stewards failed to address this claim of foul against a different rider. Had they done so, in all likelihood the stewards would have determined that Luis Saez made a remarkable effort to steady his horse and prevent the potential for calamity initiated by another rider.”

The Wests have blamed War of Will and jockey Tyler Gaffalione for causing Maximum Security to veer wide into the field as the horses turned for home.

But War of Will’s trainer, Mark Casse, has said that Maximum Security began drifting out as the horses entered the turn coming off the backstretch.

Country House was elevated to the winner’s Circle in the Kentucky Derby. Both Country House and Maximum Security are skipping Saturday’s Preakness in Baltimore.

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Country House, left, War of Will and Maximum Security bumped alongside Code of Honor as the field headed into the final stretch of the 145th Kentucky Derby. Maximum Security was disqualified. Tim Broekema
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