OPINION: Gary & Mary West Issue Statement; Will Appeal Judge’s Ruling to Dismiss Lawsuit; Cry Some More

(Maximum Security and jockey Luis Saez return to see that the objection light is lit following this year’s Kentucky Derby / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

It did not take long for Gary and Mary West, the embattled owners of the often-troubled, and much-maligned Maximum Security, to make their decision.

In fact, it took a whole lot less time than the Stewards took to review all replays, every video angle of evidence presented to them, contemplate, debate, and then issue a public ruling that their horse would be disqualified for interference in this year’s 145th running of the Kentucky Derby.

The Stewards took about 33 minutes to make their mature and correct analysis and render the only professional decision and answer that they could, considering that Maximum Security and rider Luis Saez nearly wiped out a third of the horses in the field as they entered and exited the final turn of the 11/4-mile Kentucky Derby and could have possibly wrecked havoc and horses in doing so.

The Wests?

Oh, the Wests.

They acted on Monday with impulse and emotion. They reacted like a 2-year-old when their favorite toy broke, after they threw it up against the wall. They responded like a 5-year-old when told it was their bed time.

They threw a fit.

Again.

Obviously with tears in their respective eyes and choking back the untold trauma in their voices, the Wests took about 33 seconds to take umbrage with a Federal Judge; took to task the legal rules that apply to racing in Kentucky and the very documents they signed to participate in the Kentucky Derby; took issue with just about everything else that we hold dear in this great Commonwealth.

Soon after a Federal Judge dismissed the West’s frivolous lawsuit that challenged the Kentucky Racing Commission, the executive director, the Stewards and anybody else within walking distance of Churchill Downs on the first Saturday this May, the Wests declared that they would renew their judicial challenge at a higher court and continue to run after that elusive Kentucky Derby win.

The Wests — who have certainly proven to be pesky, stubborn and persistent in their pursuit of a mythical Derby win — issued a statement that read more like a political speech that a certain President might tweet out when confronted with another set-back of fact.

The statement, which first appeared in public on the website known as HorseRacingNation.com, read:

“The Court’s decision holding that disqualification decisions by Kentucky’s stewards are never “subject to judicial or any kind of review” literally puts Kentucky’s stewards above the law.

“Stewards’ decisions are of momentous financial and intangible importance to owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, and the betting public. The transparency and reviewability of decisions by stewards is essential to the integrity of racing in America and is critical to the public’s confidence in the sport. Sadly, the Court’s Opinion allows secret deliberations by Kentucky’s stewards that affect millions of people and billions of dollars to forever go unreviewable by any court; indeed, by anyone, no matter how negligent, reckless or nefarious such secretly-made decisions may be.

“The opportunities for abuses under such a bizarre and un-American system are self-evident. This is an outrageous state of affairs that does irreparable damage to the “trust” in the sport of thoroughbred racing in Kentucky.

“As important as it is to me to have a court review the stewards’ disqualification of Maximum Security, this case has now become much bigger than that. It’s now a case about Due Process and the fundamental fairness of how racing is conducted in Kentucky. The secret and unreviewable actions by state actors that have been authorized by the Court’s Opinion are the way things are done under totalitarian regimes in third world countries.

“The Kentucky State Racing Commission should be ashamed to have created a “rule” like this; it is no wonder most people routinely question stewards’ rulings on disqualifications. I, and nearly everyone, have been operating under the belief that in America “Due Process” was an inalienable right. But that is simply not true in Kentucky racing.

“I cannot and will not allow such a dangerous precedent to stand unchallenged. I have, therefore, authorized my attorneys to immediately appeal.”

My God, pass the tissue.
Not because it is heartfelt and causes one’s eyes to moisten, mind you.
Give it to the Wests.
Obviously, they need a mountain of Kleenex.
The grown-up babies need some Bounty, for God’s sake.

It is sad, really. Or is it really sad?

Sad that the Wests cannot see through their rose-colored glasses and understand, comprehend, appreciate the fact that their horse did not earn or deserve the garland of roses on Kentucky Derby Day back in May.

Really sad that the Wests cannot give up their Derby Dreams and see that their horse still has not and will never be able to earn the victory fairly, equitably, and safely on the playing field; on the racetrack.

Sad that the West continue to drag the industry through yet another embarrassing moment that deflects the major accomplishments of the horses, their connections, and the majesty of the sport’s most enduring and historic racing event.

Really sad, for the most part, that the Wests do not acknowledge that their horse — as directed by their jockey and rider — nearly created a tragedy. That they nearly created total chaos and havoc. That they nearly wiped out a third of the horses and their riders. That they almost caused the worst accident in the history of horse racing. That they — single handily — nearly cost the entire sport and its’ greatest race the respect that it has earned through 145 years of history and hard-earned respect.

Truly, the only things that are “outrageous” here are the Wests’ serious lack of class, good judgment, and professionalism.

It only takes a few minutes to truly ascertain what happened in the final turn of the Kentucky Derby.

The Wests’ rider — Luis Saez — either recklessly allowed or dangerously directed his horse — Maximum Security — into the direction of War of Will, Bodexpress, Long Range Toddy, and others. The sudden lane change nearly caused a chain reaction of collisions. Miraculously, all the riders were able to steady their steeds. Their steeds amazingly kept their balance and stayed afoot.

Even the chart caller for equibase captured the scary moments in these words:

“Maximum Security…veered out sharply forcing War of Will out into Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress nearing the five-sixteenths pole,…”

The Wests wrote that the “Kentucky Racing Commission should be ashamed…”

It should not.

The Kentucky Racing Commission — like all of us that love the Kentucky Derby and vow to both cherish and protect the integrity of each year’s event — should continue to be damn proud of the men and women that it hired and placed in that Stewards Stand on the First Saturday in May.

It was that team — led by the incomparable Barbara Borden — that had and continue to have the courage to do what was right then, and continue to do what is right today. Stand by the only decision that they could have made, and should have made. The right call.

The integrity of the Kentucky Derby demanded it.

The integrity of the sport demanded it.

And, that team of Stewards delivered it.

Yet, there is someone — two someones, in fact — that should be embarrassed alright.

It is Gary and Mary West.

Their actions today are just as inexcusable as their rider’s on Derby Day.

Their words today are just as disgusting as their rider’s decisions on Derby Day.

Their appeal today is just as embarrassing as their temper tantrum then, and their temper tantrum now.

Let’s hope that the Court of Appeals will do exactly what the Federal Judge in Lexington did today. Crumble up the document and toss it into the muck pit. Quickly. Finally.

And, let’s hope that the Wests either grow up quickly, or find another sport that caters to crybabies that have more money that good sense.

 

 

 

 

 

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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