Racing

West To Sue, Country House To Miss Preakness

Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez and trainer Jason Servis await Churchill stewards unfavorable decision. ©Getty Images

In the ongoing controversy over Saturday’s Kentucky Derby 145 result, Gary West, owner of Maximum Security, said on Fox News he will file a lawsuit to overturn the disqualification of his horse as the winner.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission declined on Monday to hear West’s appeal, noting that the KHRC Rules state the decisions of stewards are final and no appeal can be heard. There was no immediate word on where or when the lawsuit would be filed.

Maximum Security crossed the line first by 1 3/4 lengths, but was later disqualified after objections were filed with the three stewards by Flavien Prat, the jockey of Country House, and Jon Court, the jockey of Long Range Toddy. Their horses finished second and 16th respectively. Country House was declared the eventual winner after it was deemed Maximum Security interfered with War of Will at the 5/16ths pole. The jockey on War of Will, Tyler Gaffalione, did not file an objection.

Questions have been raised about the manner and timing of the objections. Prat’s objection was not mentioned to his outrider as is the custom, but rather three minutes 40 seconds after the finish of the race. The stewards did not initiate the inquiry and took more than 20 minutes to arrive at their unanimous decision. They explained their decision in a brief prepared statement read by Chief Steward Barbara Borden during a post-race press conference but refused to take questions. They also declined the request of Maximum Security’s connections to review the tape and explain the basis on which they made their decision.

“I think when it’s all said and done and all the evidence is put on display, frame by frame in slow motion, you will find that the one horse (War of Will) actually caused the infraction, not our horse,” explained West. “I believe it will eventually show that if the one horse would have finished ahead of our horse, we would have had every right in the world to claim an objection against the one horse.”

A representative for West said the connections do not know if the stewards had access to the NBC footage angle that clearly shows War of Will’s forelegs between the rear legs of Maximum Security for approximately three strides before Tyler Gaffalione, the jockey on War of Will, pulled up his horse to avert a near calamity.

The ongoing saga took yet another unexpected turn Tuesday when trainer Bill Mott announced declared Kentucky Derby winner Country House would not contest the Preakness, the second jewel in the Triple Crown. Mott said is horse had developed a cough that could worsen. The Preakness is run at Baltimore’s Pimlico racetrack May 18.

“No fever or anything, which is interesting,” Mott said, “but I think if we pressed him at this time, he probably would come down with something. I think he’s in the very initial stages of trying to get sick, or he’s got a little bug going on.”

There will be no Triple Crown winner this year.