KHRC requests federal court to dismiss Kentucky Derby lawsuit

June 10, 2019 07:54pm

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Saturday filed a motion in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Lexington Division, to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the KHRC by Gary and Mary West. 

The Wests, owners of disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security, filed suit May 14 claiming their due process rights were violated when the KHRC denied the Wests’ appeal of the stewards’ Derby ruling.

The Wests have called for 
Maximum Security’s disqualification from first to 17th in the Kentucky Derby to be reversed by a judge, and that their colt be declared the race’s official winner.

Accordingly, they’ve also requested all “privileges to which they are or may be entitled as the official winner of the 145th Kentucky Derby.

RELATED: Kentucky Derby lawsuit may avoid trial

The KHRC has responded that the Wests’ complaint is invalid because Kentucky regulations – to which the KHRC says the Wests agreed when they entered the race – prevent the appeal of stewards’ final race rulings.

The Wests’ lawsuit is an “attempt to appeal the unappealable and to claim a property interest not recognized by Kentucky law,” the KHRC filing reads.

The KHRC filing revisited the stewards’ ruling that Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby, drifted out in the far turn and impacted War of Will’s progress. That move in turn interfered with runners Bodexpress Long Range Toddy, the stewards ruled after two jockeys filed an objection.

After a 22-minute replay review, the stewards dropped Maximum Security from first place to 17th
, and elevated second-place Country House to the race win.

The KHRC ruling notes that the Wests filed their appeal two days after the Derby was run and the results were declared official.

“Because the Wests did not file an objection before the Derby was posted as official, their ‘objection’ is untimely to the extent it concerns any matter occurring during and incident to the running of the race,” the KHRC filing reads.

The KHRC filing goes on to state that “Kentucky law grants the Wests no right to appeal the disqualification determination.”

"The Kentucky Derby is the most prestigious horse race in the world," reads the motion to dismiss. "And horse racing may be the ‘sport of kings,’ but it is still that – a sport. As with every sport, it has rules to foster consistent, fair, and safe play, and neutral arbiters, whether called referees, umpires, judges–or in this case, stewards–who enforce those rules."

It continues, saying: "...
the Wests want this Court to make the call and determine the winner of the Derby – a demand that threatens to transform the ‘most exciting two minutes in sports’ into tedious, protracted litigation."

The KHRC’s motion to dismiss was filed by Carmine Iaccarino of the Kentucky Public Protection Cabinet and John Forgy and Shawn Chapman of the KHRC.

Attorneys representing the Wests include Barry Stilz, who operates out of Lexington, Ky., and Dennis Drazin, whose company runs the Monmouth Park racetrack in New Jersey.

Since the Derby, Maximum Security has relocated to Monmouth. Trainer Jason Servis has Sunday’s $150,000 Pegasus Stakes and the July 20 Haskell Invitational (G1) – both at Monmouth – are possible targets for
the 3-year-old’s return.

Read the filing in full below:


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