If you weren’t under a rock, you know about the controversy at the Kentucky Derby. The “winning” horse, Maximum Security, didn’t actually win. Luis Saez, the jockey responsible for causing the interference that resulted in Maximum Security’s historic disqualification as the Kentucky Derby winner, was suspended for fifteen days, due to interference says state racing officials.
Saez was cited for failing “to make the proper effort to maintain a straight course” during the May 4th race at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission announced.
The suspended jockey’s lawyer called the suspension “unwarranted” and said the rider’s legal team will file an appeal within ten days. Attorneys are also seeking a stay of the penalty, pending appeal.
“He had a flawless ride in the Kentucky Derby and there’s no reason that the stewards should have given any discipline to him,” attorney Sean Deskins of the Oldfather Law Firm in Louisville said. “He did everything that he was required to do and that was within his power to control the horse.”
Oddly enough, the suspension against Saez is five times longer than the usual penalty for a riding infraction. The suspension will run on May 23rd-27th, May 30th-June 2nd, June 6th-9th and June 13th-14th.
Maximum Security led the muddy Derby from wire to wire, holding off the eventual named winner, Country House down the stretch in a trot that initially appeared to improve to 5-0 lifetime.
He was dropped to 17th by stewards, however, after it was ruled his horse interfered with several other horses between the far and final turns of the 1 1/4-mile race.
Maximum Security was riding near the rail before veering several racing lanes to the right and making contact with horse War of Will (who retreated) and horses Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress.
Video shows Saez did correct the horse, eventually pulling him back toward the rail. But it may have been too little too late.
Last week, Mark Casse, War of Will’s trainer, told the media he believes Saez intentionally blocked his horse and compared the horse’s run to a “drunk driver.”
“He carried everybody out intentionally, and then he dives in,” Casse said. “It’s almost like following a drunk driver. You don’t know which direction he’s going to go. … People were taking shots at Tyler, saying he should have went inside or should have went outside. That really upset me. I went back and watched the entire race and noticed that we were bothered not just in the main event, but we were herded prior to that.”
Country House, a 65-1 shot was eventually declared the winner. It was the first time the horse finishing first at the Derby was disqualified for interference.
The ruling comes a week after the racing commission denied an appeal of Maximum Security’s disqualification by co-owner Gary West. That decision came hours after West announced that the horse would not run in this weekend’s Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore.
West said he would “file a lawsuit in the appropriate jurisdiction” after the denial.
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