Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky Derby could end up in court; Preakness run not a lock for Country House

As Maximum Security owner Gary West told the Daily Racing Form he was considering contesting the Kentucky Derby decision in federal court, trainer Bill Mott said Sunday that a decision had not been made as to whether Country House would run in the Preakness.

According to DRF, Kentucky regulations stipulate that the stewards’ decision “shall be final and shall not be subject to appeal.” West said the stewards refused to talk to him on Saturday, so he is contemplating trying to take the decision to the federal court system.

After riders’ objections were placed about Maximum Security’s winning ride in the 145th Derby, the stewards ruled that on the turn for home the colt had impeded the progress of War of Will, who then affected Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress. In a unanimous decision, the stewards disqualified Maximum Security and placed him 17th. Country House, who finished second, was declared the winner.

At his Barn 19 on Sunday, Mott said his first thought after the race was that both of his horses, Country House and third-place finisher Tacitus, were now set up nicely for the Belmont Stakes in June. “Now we’re going to have to re-think that,” said the trainer.

Mott semi-joked that Kentucky Derby winners are “shamed” into running in the Preakness. While seeming to lean towards a Preakness run, Mott did admit that the fact the colt ran in the Louisiana Derby on March 23 and the Arkansas Derby on April 13 before the Kentucky Derby would factor into the decision.

As for the other Derby runners, second-place finisher Code of Honor was to be shipped to Belmont Park in New York on Sunday where a decision will be made this week, trainer Shug McGaughey said. Mott said third-place finisher Tactius was not likely to be headed to Baltimore. Trainer Bob Baffert indicated he had not made a decision about fourth-place finisher Improbable or fifth-place finisher Game Winner.

The Japanese-bred Master Fencer will point toward the Belmont, his connections said. Trainer Mark Casse said seventh-place finisher War of Will could go in the Preakness. “If he’s healthy and happy we will probably go on to Baltimore,” the trainer said.

As for the others, Bodexpress is expected to run in the Preakness. New shooters, i.e. horses who did not run in the Derby, are likely to include Federico Tesio Stakes winner Alwaysmining; Signalman, who finished third in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes; Lexington Stakes third-place finisher Sueno; Oaklawn Invitational winner Laughing Fox; and Florida Derby fourth-place finisher Bourbon War.

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