Appeals Court upholds disqualification of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner

Appeals Court upholds disqualification of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner
Fifteen months after the second-weirdest Kentucky Derby ever and eight days before what figures to be the weirdest Kentucky Derby ever, a federal appeals court on Friday upheld last year’s disqualification of winner Maximum Security. (Photo: Dan Dry/PriceWeber)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Fifteen months after the second-weirdest Kentucky Derby ever and eight days before what figures to be the weirdest Kentucky Derby ever, a federal appeals court on Friday upheld last year’s disqualification of winner Maximum Security.

With jockey Luis Saez aboard, the horse crossed the finish line first in 2019, but, following a 20-minute review, was disqualified for interference, giving Country House the victory.

A lower federal court ruled in November not to hear a case brought by Maximum Security’s owners hoping to reverse the track stewards’ decision.

Gary and Mary West appealed that ruling, which was upheld Friday by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati.

The ruling closed its 14-page decision by saying, “What should have been the fastest two minutes in sports turned into over a year of litigation. Neither Kentucky law nor the Fourteenth Amendment allows for judicial second-guessing of the stewards’ call. For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the district court in full.”

Attorneys for the Wests had argued that Maximum Security was 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 at historic Churchill Downs.

At one point during the saga, the Wests put up a $20 million challenge to the connections of Country House, War of Will, Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress, but such a made-for-TV race never materialized.

Since the Derby, Maximum Security has won six of seven starts, including three Grade I races. And Country Horse would retire before ever racing again.

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.