Kentucky Derby officials deny appeal for disqualified horse Maximum Security

The state racing commission said in a letter Monday that the stewards "unanimously disqualified Maximum Security" and it was not subject for an appeal.

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By Elisha Fieldstadt and Doha Madani

An appeal filed by the co-owner of Maximum Security, the horse that crossed the finish line first at the Kentucky Derby but was disqualified, was quickly denied Monday by the state racing commission.

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission said in a letter that the request was "moot" because the decision to disqualify was not subject to appeal.

"The stewards unanimously disqualified Maximum Security following two objections lodged immediately after the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby and after a thorough review of the race replay," the commission's letter stated. "That determination is not subject to an appeal."

An attorney for co-owner Gary West sent an appeal notice to the commission just hours earlier in the day. A letter was also sent to Marc Guilfoil, the commission's executive director, requesting all copies of the materials used to make the disqualification decision.

"We were stunned, shocked and in total disbelief," West said in an exclusive interview on "Today." "The appeal has to be filed within 48 hours, so we’ll be filing that today."

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West also said on "Today" that Maximum Security would not be competing in the Preakness Stakes on May 18.

"I think there’s no Triple Crown on the line for us," West said. "And there’s no reason to run a horse back in two weeks when you don’t have to."

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Stewards on Saturday determined that the horse dangerously impeded the paths of others, and Country House was declared the winner. It was the first time in the Derby's 145-year history a horse was disqualified for action during the competition. In 1968, the initial winner was later disqualified over a drug test.

"I think this is something that is big enough that the entire racing world is looking at this and they deserve an opportunity to really know what was going on," West said, adding that the stewards refused to take questions after making their unprecedented decision.

"They’ve been about as nontransparent about this whole thing as anything I’ve ever seen in my life," he said.

The stewards ruled that on the final turn, Maximum Security had moved out of his lane and bumped into War of Will, who originally finished in eighth place, but then ended in seventh after Maximum Security was disqualified.

Country House's jockey, Flavien Prat, initially raised the objection.

West acknowledged Monday that he saw Maximum Security move out of his lane, but the error is easy to make because the Kentucky Derby field is so crowded.

He said while the Kentucky Derby has 20 horses in the track, other races only allow 14.

"Churchill Downs, because they’re a greedy organization, has rather than 14 like you have in the Kentucky Oaks, the Breeders' Cup, every other race in America, just because they can make more money, they’re willing to risk horses' lives and people’s lives to do that," West said. "Every Kentucky Derby, you could sit down two or three or four horses if you wanted to because it’s like a rodeo out there."