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Owners of Kentucky Derby horse Maximum Security file lawsuit seeking to overturn the DQ

Posted at 9:29 PM, May 15, 2019

The owners of Maximum Security, the horse that was disqualified at the Kentucky Derby, have filed a federal lawsuit, seeking to overturn the disqualification.

The horse led the derby from wire to wire and crossed the finish line 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Country House but was disqualified for interference while turning for home. Stewards decided that Maximum Security impacted the progress of War of Will, which in turn interfered with Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, challenges the evidence and process used to disqualify Maximum Security. The suit claims the disqualification violated the plaintiff's right to due process because they could not appeal. The stewards "abused their discretion," the lawsuit says.

Gary and Mary West, who own the 3-year-old colt, are seeking the reinstatement of the original order of finish.

"The insubstantiality of the evidence relied on by the Stewards to disqualify Maximum Security, and the bizarre and unconstitutional process to which Plaintiffs were subjected before and after the disqualification, are the subjects of this action," the lawsuit said.

Maximum Security's owners and jockey Luis Saez "were denied any part of the $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 said.

The lawsuit names the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, its members and the stewards as defendants.

Susan West, a spokeswoman for racing commission, declined to comment on pending litigation.

Country House was declared the winner. Chief steward Barbara Borden read a statement to the media after the ruling -- which said Maximum Security had veered out of his path -- but took no questions.

After interviewing jockeys and watching video for nearly 20 minutes, all three stewards agreed to penalize Maximum Security.

"Despite the fact that no objection had been lodged by the owner, trainer, or jockey of War of Will or Bodexpress, the Stewards unilaterally determined that Maximum Security had committed a foul and then lied to the public that they interviewed the "affected riders" when they knew they did not interview War of Will's jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, nor Chris Landeros, Bodexpress's rider," the lawsuit said.

Maximum Security was the "leading horse," the lawsuit said, meaning the colt is "entitled to any part of the track."

Last week, the state commission last week swiftly denied Maximum Security's appeal of the disqualification, saying the stewards' decision is not subject to appeal, because there is no right to appeal a disqualification under Kentucky law

On Sunday, the commission suspended Saez for 15 days "for failure to control 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."

Neither Maximum Security nor Country House will race in the Preakness Stakes, which is Saturday in Baltimore. The race is the second leg of the Triple Crown.