Maximum Security owners file lawsuit to restore Kentucky Derby win

The owners of Maximum Security have filed a federal lawsuit to restore their horse's win in this month's controversialKentucky Derby, lamenting the process for the disqualification as "unconstitutional."

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Frankfort, Kentucky on behalf of Gary and Mary West, who have denied stewards' claims that Maximum Security interfered with other horses. The second-place finisher, Country House, was declared the winner.

The Wests' appealed to the Kentucky Horse Race Commission last week, but it was swiftly denied, with the organization stating that its stewards' findings as to in-race matters "shall be final and not subject to appeal."

In Tuesday's lawsuit, the Wests labeled that appeals process as "bizarre," and stated that the evidence used to make their decision was unsubstantial.

Maximum Security, with Luis Saez aboard, enters the first turn of the 145th Kentucky Derby.
May 4, 2019 (Photo: By Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal)

The Wests have asked to have the stewards' decision reversed to "the original order of finish confirming that Maximum Security is the official winner of the Derby who remains undefeated."

They have also asked to have purse money be redistributed in accordance with the original order of finish; the winner's share for the race was $1.86 million, while the jockey and trainer were denied $186,000 each.

Listed among the defendants are three stewards, including chief steward Barbara Borden, who announced the decision. The list also includes every member of the Horse Race Commission, including executive director Marc Guilfoi and retired jockey Pat Day.

Susan West, a spokeswoman for the Horse Racing Commission spokeswoman, declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing the organization's policy to not comment on pending litigation.

Claims made in a lawsuit represent one side. 

Maximum Security crossed the finish line first in the 145th Kentucky Derby but was eventually disqualified and dropped to 17th when stewards ruled he drifted out of his running lane and impeded the progress of other horses in the race.

After the race, Borden said Maximum Security was disqualified for interfering with the progress of War of Will, who in turn interfered with Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress. The decision was unanimous of three stewards overseeing the race, she said.

The Wests' appeal was denied within hours of its filing.

"The stewards unanimously disqualified Maximum Security following two objections lodged immediately after the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby and after a thorough review of the race replay. That determination is not subject to an appeal," read the denial, which was signed by Guilfoil.

In Tuesday's lawsuit, the Wests noted a series 

Meanwhile, Maximum Security's jockey, Luis Saez, was suspended for 15 racing days after the Horse Racing Commission determined he interfered with other riders during the race.

The commission cited Saez's "failure to controI 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."

His lawyer, Ann Oldfather, said he will appeal immediately and expects to overturn "this unsupported and unsupportable suspension."

She said she also will ask that the suspension, which could potentially keep him out of the Belmont Stakes, be stayed pending the appeal.

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