War of Words: New video shows Maximum Security not to blame, attorneys say

Updated: May. 10, 2019 at 8:03 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The drama surrounding Saturday's controversial Kentucky Derby finish only appears to be getting louder.

On Friday, an attorney for jockey Luis Saez -- who rode Maximum Security to victory on Saturday, only to be disqualified later -- met with the stewards who overturned the result and declared Country House the winner in the 145th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Attorney Ann Oldfather presented a nearly seven-minute video to stewards, edited to show that Saez and Maximum Security were not to blame for the contact at the top of the stretch that nearly caused a dangerous chain reaction as the 19-horse pack turned for home on the sloppy track.

The video also appeared to show War of Will’s jockey Tyler Gaffalione bump into the back of Maximum Security several times, causing Maximum Security to veer outward, which was essentially the foul that got him disqualified.

“To try and blame the actions of Tyler or War of Will is ludicrous,” War of Will trainer Mark Casse told WAVE 3 News on Friday.

No one in War of Will’s camp claimed a foul after the race, but Country House jockey Flavien Prat did, as did Jon Court, who was aboard Long Range Toddy.

“I didn’t realize how much I was in danger until a few people pointed it out and I said, ‘No, I was never in danger,’” Court told WAVE 3 News. “And then I just watched the replay, especially the rear end, and I realized how dangerous it was, and then it kind of shook me up about 48 hours, actually 72 hours in, then I was upset.”

Court added that he agreed with the stewards’ decision to disqualify Maximum Security.

Country House jockey Flavien Prat (far right), speaks to officials during the inquiry following...
Country House jockey Flavien Prat (far right), speaks to officials during the inquiry following Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez (pink and black silks) awaits his turn to share his account.

WAVE 3 News sat down with horse racing analyst Donna Brothers and Churchill Downs winningest trainer Dale Romans to go through the video the stewards were given.

Brothers and Romans both said Gafalione's restraint on War of Will is not unusual in a race, even at the beginning of one.

About six minutes into the video given to the stewards, Brothers said you can see the horse shift his lead from left to right.

“See the left lead right here and then he swaps to his right lead and he's going to duck out,” Brothers said while watching the video. “This right here is where it happened. Where he went from the one path to the five path. It happened in a fraction of a second and these riders have a fraction of a second to react."

Romans said he believes the stewards made the right decision to disqualify Maximum Security.

“The horse changed paths dramatically, impeded another horse and had to be disqualified,” Romans said.

“I don’t feel like any of the jockeys did anything wrong in this case," Brothers said. “You just had an unfortunate incident where you had a young horse that spooked, caused a domino effect and chain of events. The horse didn’t try to do it and the jockey didn’t try to do it. It was something that happens in races all the time.”

Following Maximum Security’s win, a 20-minute inquiry ended when Country House was declared the winner, prompting a cascade of boos all across the track, fueling several days of chaos on social media.

Maximum Security owner Gary West appealed the overturned decision Wednesday, but the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission denied it swiftly. West said he may take the case to state or federal court.

Neither Maximum Security nor Country House will run in the Preakness on May 18, meaning there will be no Triple Crown this year.

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