Kentucky Derby appeal to be lodged by Maximum Security owner

Connections ‘in total disbelief’ following historic decision

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Co-owner Gary West is set to appeal the disqualification of Maximum Security from first place in the Kentucky Derby.

The Jason Servis-trained colt on Saturday night became the first winner in the 145-year history of the race to be demoted, when the stewards ruled he had caused interference on the home turn.

The race was awarded to outsider Country House following an objection, with Maximum Security placed last, sparking intense debate around the racing world – and also in the White House.

War Of Will appeared to be the main sufferer as Maximum Security veered from the rail to the centre of the course on the rain-hit surface, before getting back on an even keel.

The stewards cited a section of the rule that calls for disqualification if “a leading horse or any other horse in a race swerves or is ridden to either side so as to interfere with, intimidate, or impede any other horse or jockey”.

Chief steward Barbara Borden said in a news conference that she and two other stewards interviewed riders and studied video replays of the incident during a 22-minute review after the finish.

Whatever happens in the interim, Maximum Security is highly unlikely to take his chance in the second leg of the American Triple Crown, the Preakness Stakes on May 18.

Speaking on Monday, West told the Today Show on the NBC network: “We were stunned, shocked and in total disbelief. The appeal has to be filed within 48 hours so we’ll be filing that today.”

He added: “I think 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.”

The aftermath of the race even saw American president Donald Trump take to Twitter to air his views.

He wrote: “The Kentucky Derby decision was not a good one. It was a rough & tumble race on a wet and sloppy track, actually, a beautiful thing to watch. Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur.

“The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby – not even close!”

Meanwhile, Country House’s trainer Bill Mott is himself not overly keen on a crack at the Preakness and would rather wait for the third leg, the Belmont Stakes.

“Now we’re talking about a horse that’s had quite a few races,” Mott told www.bloodhorse.com.

“I think if you run back in the Preakness— maybe you hit the board, maybe you don’t, maybe you win — but it probably compromises his chances a little bit to win the Belmont.

“That’s just looking at it as a trainer and what would be normal. But the Triple Crown is not a normal situation. It never has been. I don’t think they should space anything out anymore.

“I think the challenge of the Triple Crown is that it’s three races close together, and it takes a champion — hey, it takes a Justify — to win those kind of races.”

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