SAN DIEGO — The owner of Maximum Security, the horse that made history by being disqualified from Saturday’s Kentucky Derby for a rules infraction, is threatening to sue Churchill Downs for the controversial ruling.
“It was the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat within a 22-minute period of time,” Rancho Sante Fe resident Gary West, the thoroughbred’s owner, told FOX 5 Monday. “When they took the horse down, my jaw dropped. I was in total disbelief,”
West also said his horse will not run in the Preakness Stakes, the next leg of racing’s Triple Crown.
“I think there is no Triple Crown on the line for us, and there is no reason to run a horse back in two weeks when you don’t have to,” Gary West said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show.
Lexington, Kentucky, attorney D. Barry Stilz on Monday filed an appeal with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on behalf of West.
“I think this is something that’s big enough that the entire racing world is looking at this, and I think they deserve an opportunity to really know what was going on,” West said on NBC.
Maximum Security, who led the Derby from wire to wire and crossed the finish line 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Country House, was disqualified for interference while turning for home. Officials decided that Maximum Security impacted the progress of War of Will, which in turn interfered with Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress. Country House was declared the winner.
The stewards who made the ruling did not take questions, electing to read a prepared statement with the explanation.
Maximum Security owner seeks recording of stewards’ deliberation
The notice of appeal argued: “The Stewards’ acts in reviewing the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby were arbitrary and capricious and did not comply with applicable administrative regulations. Their determination to disqualify Maximum Security is not supported by substantial evidence.”
In addition to the appeal, Stilz is asking “that all related purse monies be withheld and placed in escrow pending final determination of the matter,” according to a letter from Stilz to Marc A. Guilfoil, the commission’s executive director.
Stilz is also seeking all materials related to the stewards’ disqualification determination, including their notes “and the recording of their nearly 22 minutes of deliberations; and any written decision issued by the stewards with respect to Maximum Security’s disqualification,” the letter said.
CNN has reached out to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission for comment and has yet to release a statement.
It is the first time a Derby winner has been disqualified because of a foul on the track. In 1968, Dancer’s Image won but failed a drug test and was disqualified.
“I was a bit shocked and surprised that the stewards wrote a statement that was probably prepared by their lawyers and refused, literally refused, to take a single question from the media,” West said. “So they’ve been about as non-transparent about this whole thing as anything I have ever seen in my life.”
The Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown, is May 18 in Baltimore, and it remains to be seen if the Kentucky Derby winner will race.
On Sunday, Country House trainer Bill Mott was not ready to commit the horse to race the Preakness. Maryland Jockey Club’s President and General Manager Sal Sinatra formally invited the horse to the Preakness that morning.
“Having the Derby winner, you’re pretty much forced to go into the Preakness,” Mott said to reporters outside his barn at Churchill Downs.