Kentucky Derby

Racing commission to court: Maximum Security’s owners have no right to appeal DQ

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has asked a federal judge to toss a lawsuit by Maximum Security’s owners over the disqualification of their horse in the Kentucky Derby.

The motion, filed on behalf of the commission and its members, the stewards who disqualified Maximum Security, and the executive director, said horse racing is a sport with rules and neutral arbiters and disagreement with a call doesn’t mean their constitutional or legal rights have been violated.

“Instead, the Wests want this Court to make the call and determine the winner of the Derby — a demand that threatens to transform the “most exciting two minutes in sports” into tedious, protracted litigation,” according to the motion.

“Gary and Mary West’s complaint fails to state a claim … upon which relief can be granted,” according to the motion, which was filed on June 8, the day that the Belmont, the last jewel of the Triple Crown, was run in New York.

The state asked U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell to dismiss the suit, which was filed May 14 in Lexington.

The Wests argued that they should be allowed to appeal the disqualification of Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line first in the Derby. After two other jockeys filed objections, the stewards ruled that Maximum Security had impeded several horses and Country House was declared the winner.

Jockey Luis Saez, who rode Maximum Security, also is facing a 15-day suspension; he has appealed and continues to ride in races.

The Wests have asked for their horse to be declared the winner and for the Kentucky Derby purse monies to be redistributed. But the racing commission in its motion said that Kentucky’s statutes do not allow appeals of stewards rulings on races, and haven’t for almost 60 years.

The commission also reiterated that “the Wests agreed to the rules of racing in the Commonwealth” when they applied for owners’ licenses.

The Wests are attempting “to appeal the unappealable and to claim a property interest not recognized by Kentucky law,” according to the motion.

Caldwell has not ruled on the motion.