Maximum Security

Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The owners of Maximum Security filed a complaint with Kentucky horse racing regulators Monday, arguing that stewards made an "arbitrary and capricious" decision when they disqualified the first-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby.

But the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission denied the appeal late in the afternoon, reiterating that the unprecedented ruling after Saturday's Derby is "final" and can't be contested. 

State regulations give stewards broad power to rule on objections, such as the ones made by two jockeys who accused Maximum Security of interfering with other horses. Those decisions aren't subject to appeal, those rules say.

Maximum Security's owners, Gary and Mary West, had claimed the three officials did not follow unspecified state regulations, and "their determination to disqualify MAXIMUM SECURITY is not supported by substantial evidence," Gary West wrote in a notice of appeal.

They had asked for a hearing before the racing commission, as well as all copies of "views considered" by the stewards before making their decision and all recordings the racing officials "obtained and considered," according to documents provided by their attorney, D. Barry Stilz.

Racing commission general counsel John Forgy wrote in a letter to Stilz that the Wests are not entitled to a hearing because their appeal is moot.

And he reminded Stilz that the Wests agreed to abide by the state's regulations when they renewed their licenses last December, including agreeing to accept the stewards' decisions.  

Video replays appeared to show Maximum Security drifting in the far turn and forcing at least one horse, War of Will, to maneuver to avoid stepping on him.

Jon Court, who rode Long Range Toddy, and Country House jockey Flavien Prat claimed after the race that Maximum Security had interfered as the field turned for home. 

Kentucky's chief steward, Barbara Borden, said Saturday night that officials reviewed the race and interviewed riders before finding that Maximum Security "impacted the progress" of War of Will and interfered with Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress. As a result, they disqualified Maximum Security. 

Marc Guilfoil, the racing commission's executive director, told the Bloodhorse on Sunday that "it was the right call." 

Maximum Security was the first top finisher in the Derby's 145 years to be disqualified after an on-track objection. After 22 minutes of deliberating, the stewards declared second-place finisher Country House the race's winner.

The Wests had asked that all purse money be withheld and put into escrow until a final ruling has been made.

Stilz did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment on the racing commission's denial.

Reach reporter Marcus Green at 502-585-0825, mgreen@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.

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Marcus Green joined WDRB News in 2013 after 12 years as a staff writer at the Louisville Courier-Journal. He reports on transportation, development and local and state government.