Maximum Security's owners file lawsuit to overturn 'bizarre' Kentucky Derby decision

Janet Patton, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Horse Racing

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Maximum Security's owners on Tuesday sued the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and its members, staff and the stewards who disqualified the horse in the 145th Kentucky Derby.

The federal lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Frankfort on Tuesday, called the disqualification process "bizarre and unconstitutional" and seeks to have the stewards' decision reversed and the original order of finish reinstated "confirming that Maximum Security is the official winner of the Derby who remains undefeated."

The Wests also want to have the $3 million in Derby purse monies redistributed to them, trainer Jason Servis and jockey Luis Saez.

"As a result of the disqualification, plaintiffs, the trainer, and the jockey of Maximum Security were denied any part of the (winner's) $1,860,000 share of the Derby purse as well as a professional accomplishment that any horseman would cherish for life, plus the very substantial value that a Kentucky Derby winner has as a stallion," the lawsuit claims.

The racing commission had no immediate comment; the commission has not filed a response to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleges that the lack of an appeals process for the stewards' ruling denies Maximum Security's owners their due process constitutional rights. The Wests filed a notice of intent to appeal with the racing commission on May 6, asking for a hearing by the full commission on the ruling. That was denied; racing commission attorney John Forgy cited Kentucky regulations that do not allow racing decisions to be appealed.


The owners also allege that the stewards' decision was not supported by "substantial evidence on the whole record" and that the stewards "lied" in their explanation for the disqualification.

On the night of May 4, the stewards stated that: "The riders of the 18 (Long Range Toddy) and 20 (Country House) horses in the Kentucky Derby lodged objections against the 7 (Maximum Security) horse, the winner, due to interference turning for home, leaving the 1/4 pole.

"We had a lengthy review of the race. We interviewed affected riders. We determined that the 7 horse drifted out and impacted the progress of Number 1 (War of Will), in turn, interfering with the 18 and 21 (Bodexpress). Those horses were all affected, we thought, by the interference. Therefore, we unanimously determined to disqualify Number 7 and place him behind the 18, the 18 being the lowest-placed horse that he bothered, which is our typical procedure."

According to the lawsuit, the stewards disallowed as "meritless" an objection by Flavien Prat, the jockey on Country House, who was elevated to the winner after Maximum Security was disqualified.


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