While the Kentucky Derby has always heavily featured pomp and circumstance, this year’s event also featured a heavy dose of controversy.
Maximum Security, owned by Gary and Mary West, was the first to cross the finish line.
However, after a review, it was determined that Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez had veered into the lanes of the other horses en route to its finish.
— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 4, 2019
Country House, the second horse to cross the finish line, was ultimately named the winner.
Unsurprisingly, those within Maximum Security’s camp were less than thrilled with the outcome of the race.
Maximum Security’s trainer said his horse crushed the field.
“The bottom line is that day he was the best horse,” trainer Jason Servis told The Associated Press. “I didn’t get the roses, but I had that horse spot-on and we kicked their (rears).”
Saez also was upset, and his feelings were compounded by a subsequent suspension for 15 racing days for the actions that got him and his horse disqualified. Saez was expected to appeal the suspension.
That discontent also extended to the owners of Maximum Security. The Wests filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday over the disqualification, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.
They sued the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission as well as its members, staff and stewards who were involved in the disqualification of Maximum Security. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Frankfort, Kentucky.
The lawsuit aims to have the disqualification reversed, the original finish order reinstated and the Derby purse money redistributed. Of note, the winner’s share of the Derby was $1.86 million.
The Wests blasted the disqualification as “bizarre and unconstitutional.”
In particular, they say the lack of an appeals process didn’t give them their due process rights.
There will be no Triple Crown drama this year, with both Maximum Security and Derby-winning Country House out of the Preakness.
Based on where this lawsuit could end up, that doesn’t mean the world of horse racing will be lacking drama, however. It just looks like most of it will be taking place off the tracks.
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