Maximum Security to Skip Preakness, Owners’ Derby Appeal Denied

Posted on: May 7, 2019, 06:55h. 

Last updated on: May 7, 2019, 07:35h.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Monday rejected an appeal by the owners of Maximum Security to overturn the stewards’ decision disqualifying their horse as the winner of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

Maximum Security owner Gary West criticized the stewards for their decision to take down his horse as the Kentucky Derby winner. He also said his horse would not run in the Preakness Stakes. (Image: NBC)

After a chaotic 22 minutes following Saturday’s Derby, when stewards reviewed race video and interviewed jockeys to determine that Maximum Security interfered with at least three horses on the final turn, Monday provided 12 hours headlines and more drama.

It started when Gary West, who with his wife owns Maximum Security, went on NBC’s Today to criticize Churchill Downs and racing officials. He questioned if his horse’s actions were really that blatant since the stewards did not file the inquiry themselves. In addition, he called the Louisville track “greedy” for allowing too many horses to run in the sport’s most prestigious event.

The Kentucky Derby allows up to 20 horses, where other races cap entries at 14.

The couple’s attorneys filed an appeal with the commission on Monday afternoon.

Given the enormous importance of this race and the unprecedented outcome on Saturday, we ask that the Wests complaint, protest, objection, and appeal be heard forthwith by the full Kentucky Horse Racing Commission,” it stated.

The commission, however, promptly rejected the protest, noting that stewards’ decisions are not subject to appeal.

If the Wests intend to take their case further, it means they will need to file a lawsuit.

Preakness Field Uncertain

West likely knew his chances for an appeal were slim when he spoke on Today and said Maximum Security would not compete in the next leg of the Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes on May 18.

“There’s no Triple Crown on the line for us, and there’s no reason to run a horse back in two weeks when you don’t have to,” West said.

While Maximum Security is out, Country House, the 65-1 horse who became the Derby winner after the stewards’ historic decision, is not yet committed to the 1-3/16th-mile race either.

Country House’s trainer Bill Mott remained uncommitted to the second leg of the Triple Crown during an interview on CNN Tuesday morning.

The Preakness would be Country House’s fourth race in two months.  After a disappointing fourth-place finish in the March 23 Louisiana Derby, the decision was made to run the colt in the April 13 Arkansas Derby. His third-place finish at Oaklawn secured enough qualifying points to guarantee a spot in the Kentucky Derby.

“We’re talking about a horse who has had quite a few races in a short period of time, if he runs in the Preakness,” Mott said earlier this week. “It may compromise his chances a bit and it’s not a normal situation to run so often, but the Triple Crown is not a normal situation.”

Trainer Bob Baffert announced Monday that Improbable, who finished fifth in the Derby before the stewards’ ruling moved him to fourth, will race in Baltimore. Baffert told the Daily Racing Form that Mike Smith would ride the colt.

Preakness Odds

Even with so many question marks regarding the Preakness field, US Racing has released odds for the Pimlico Grade I stakes race. Improbable currently sits at 15-2.

As of Wednesday morning, Code of Honor, who ended up second in the Derby after the stewards’ ruling, is the 5-2 favorite. Country House is 3-1, while War of Will and Tacitus are 4-1. Game Winner is 5-1.

Among the longer shots are Vekoma at 11-1 and Laughing Fox at 12-1. Laughing Fox, trained by Steve Asmussen, earned an automatic bid into the Preakness after winning the Oaklawn Invitational Saturday at the Arkansas track.