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Maximum Security owners file lawsuit to overturn Kentucky Derby results

In this Saturday, May 4, 2019, file photo, from left, Country House, ridden by Flavien Prat, War of
Maximum Security, center, was disqualified after appearing to win the Kentucky Derby on May 4. The horse’s owners have filed suit in U.S. District Court to overturn the ruling.
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

As the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown gets ready to go on Saturday, the results of the Kentucky Derby continue to be contested. On Wednesday, Gary and Mary West, owners of Maximum Security, filed suit in U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Kentucky to overturn the disqualification of the horse and reinstate the colt as the winner of the race.

The suit, filed primarily against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the stewards at Churchill Downs, said the owners, trainer and jockey of the horse were denied due process rights under the 14th Amendment.

The complaint read in part: “The insubstantiality of the evidence relied on by the stewards to disqualify Maximum Security, and the bizarre and unconstitutional process to which the Plaintiffs were subjected before and after the disqualification, are the subjects of this action.”

It also pointed out that no inquiry sign was ever posted by the stewards to indicate, in their opinion, that a foul possibly was committed.

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Maximum Security’s run along the far turn brought him off the rail and three-horses wide toward the middle of the track. He did not make contact with any of the other horses, but the stewards ruled that he impeded their progress. His was the first on-track disqualification in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby.

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The complaint also cited the statement read by the stewards after the race that said that they interviewed “affected riders” and went on to say that neither Tyler Gaffalione, rider of War of Will, the horse most affected, nor Chris Landeros, jockey of Bodeexpress, was interviewed.

After the stewards disqualified Maximum Security, he was placed 17th and County House was moved from second to first.

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It’s too early to determine when a court date might be set, if it reaches that stage.

Maximum Security will not be running in Saturday’s Preakness and is unlikely for the Belmont Stakes on June 8. His most likely next race would be the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth, N.J., on July 20.


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