KY Racing Commission Rules: Maximum Security’s Jockey Suspended for 15 Days

(Luis Saez and Maximum Security cross the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby, before being disqualified and placed 12th / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

(Jockey Luis Saez / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

(Maximum Security, and jockey Luis Saez cross the finish line first in the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, before they were disqualified and placed 12th / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

It’s official.

The Kentucky Racing Commission has ruled.

Luis Saez — the only jockey in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby to be disqualified for interference during the running of the first leg of the Triple Crown when he and his mount, Maximum Security, were disciplined on May 5 — will be suspended for a total of 15 racing days.

The Kentucky Racing Commission released its’ findings and ruling in a one-page memo on Monday.

The Commission, in its’ ruling, suspended Saez “…for failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course thereby causing interference with several rivals that resulted in the disqualification of his mount.”

Saez and Maximum Security, who went on to cross the finish line first in the Derby, were in the midst of a strong move coming out of the final turn when the colt was pressured on the outside by rival War of Will and his rider Tyler Gaffalione.

Suddenly, Maximum Security — undefeated winner of the Florida Derby — swerved radically to the outside and moved several paths off the rail and into on-coming company. The duo of Saez and Maximum Security bumped several times with Gaffalione and War of Will.

War of Will then was knocked into the side of Long Range Toddy, and his rider Jon Court. That duo bumped into Bodexpress, who was in the midst of a run and possible contention, as well.

The benefactor of all the confusion to his inside was Country House, and his rider Flavien Pratt — who rallied on the outside to finish second.

After multiple objections were filed by both Court and Pratt, the Churchill Downs’ racing Stewards — led by Chief State Steward Barbara Borden — lit up the “objection light” and immediately began studying the replays and close-up reviews of the race.

After a delay of about 21 minutes and 56 seconds, the Stewards ruled that Maximum Security had, indeed, fouled several horses coming out of the final turn and would be disqualified from his first place finish and placed 12th.

Since the race, Gary and Mary West — the owners of Maximum Security — have filed an appeal of the Stewards ruling with the Kentucky Racing Commission. That appeal was immediately rejected. The Wests have publicly stated that they are considering other legal actions to try and overturn the adjudicated outcome of the race.

When asked on Monday if the Kentucky Racing Commission would have any other official “statement” regarding the ruling on Saez, and official stated that the official ruling and oversight board would not.

Here’s a look at the official release:

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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