Maximum Security’s owner offers $20 million challenge to 4 Derby rivals

Maximum Security owners issue multi-million dollar challenge

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Nearly two weeks after Maximum Security was disqualified from the 145th Kentucky Derby, his owner is again making some noise.

Gary West on Friday offered a total of $20 million to the connections of four other Derby contenders if any of those horses can beat Maximum Security before the end of the year.

West said he would pay $5 million each to the connections of Country House, War of Will, Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress.

"I am doing this because I think it would be good for racing and a unique opportunity to bring more people into racing because of the elevated interest this would bring to the sport," West said in a statement Friday.

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Maximum Security crossed the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4. But a 20-minute stewards’ inquiry resulted in his disqualification, elevating second-place finisher Country House to the winner’s circle.

Several days after the race, West appealed the overturned result to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, which quickly rejected it. And on Wednesday of this week, West filed a federal lawsuit.

West is asking the owners of the other four horses to give him $5 million apiece if Maximum Security finishes ahead of their horse in the official chart, the statement said. The owners of any or all of the other four horses wishing to participate would be required to put their $5 million in an escrow account, as West will do immediately for up to $20 million.

Veteran horse racing journalist Billy Reed said he doesn't see Country House trainer Bill Mott accepting.

“Bill is a traditionalist,” Reed said. “I just don’t see that he’s got a lot to gain from it.”

Reed said direct challenge match races aren't new though.

“The match race takes racing back to its most elemental roots,” Reed said. “You can imagine a tavern where one guy says I’ve got the fastest horse in the county. The other one says ‘no you don’t.’ So, you have a race.”

Reed said there were four notable match races in the last century: orginial triple crown winner Sir Barton versus Man o’War in 1920; Seabiscuit and War Admiral in the 1930s; Swaps and Nashua in 1956; and, most recently, a tragic finish between Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure in 1975.

"That was the race where Ruffian broke down, had to be destroyed and there just seems like there hasn't been that much of an appetite for match races ever since then," Reed said.

He said that paired with 23 recent horse deaths at the Santa Anita racetrack may discourage trainers.

Neither Maximum Security nor Country House is slated to run in The Preakness, coverage of which begins on WAVE 3 News on Saturday at 5 p.m.

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