The loser of the most controversial Kentucky Derby result in recent history tried to stage a comeback that was denied by Kentucky's Horse Racing Commission

By Jason Duaine Hahn
May 06, 2019 03:15 PM
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145th Kentucky Derby

The owners of the horse that was disqualified after coming in first at this weekend’s Kentucky Derby were denied an appeal in their last-ditch effort to be named the rightful winner of the famed event.

While Maximum Security crossed the finish line first at the 145th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, the victory was reversed when jockey Flavien Prat, riding Country House, filed a rider’s objection claiming Maximum Security impeded the path of the other horses in the final turn of the race.

The objection was upheld following an extensive 22-minute review and Country House was declared the winner after entering the race as a 65-1 longshot and taking home the race’s $1.86 million prize.

The news sent shockwaves throughout the horseracing community since no horse had ever been disqualified due to race riding in the event’s history.

On Monday, Maximum Security’s owner, Gary West, announced he planned to appeal the decision with Kentucky’s state racing commission.

“We are going to file an appeal today with the state racing commission,” West said while on NBC’s Today show. “Right after the race, I had the trainer call the stewards and very nicely ask them if they would be willing to visit with us after the races were over.”

West added, “I said, ‘We’ll stay here until 11, 12 o’clock at night, whatever you want,’ and they said, ‘Absolutely not, we won’t be showing the films until Thursday.’ We didn’t really have any alternative legally… the appeal has to be filed within 48 hours.”

145th Kentucky Derby
Jockey Flavien Prat celebrates atop of Country House

Since the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission does not allow for appeals, there didn’t seem to be much hope for West and the disqualified horse.

“We had a lengthy review of the race,” the commission’s chief steward, Barbara Borden, told the Associated Press, according to Today. “We interviewed affected riders. We determined that [Maximum Security] drifted out and impacted the progress of War of Will, in turn interfering with the 18 and 21. Those horses were all affected by the interference.”

On Monday afternoon, Fox News correspondent Matt Finn announced that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission denied West’s hopes to get the decision overturned.

“KY Horse Racing Commission already denied the appeal filed today by the attorney of #MaximumSecurity owner,” he wrote. “Commission says stewards’ decision not subject to appeal.”

The announcement seemingly brings a swift end to a weekend of heartbreak and controversy.

On finding out of the disqualification, West said: “It was literally like the old TV show, ‘the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,’ all within a 22-minute period of time… Winning it was the most euphoric thing I have probably ever had in our lives, and disappointment when they took the horse down for the first time in history, we were stunned, shocked and in total disbelief. It had never been done before.”

West, 73, argued that since race stewards didn’t notice the infraction during the race, and were only alerted to it by jockeys, then it deserved further inquiry.

Maximum Security will not be participating in the Preakness Stakes in two weeks, West told Today, solidifying that, even if the decision is reversed, he won’t be able to earn the Triple Crown.

145th Kentucky Derby
Maximum Security crosses the finish line

“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,” he explained.

Owners of Kentucky Derby winner Country House will now have to decide if they will race in the Preakness on May 18.