KHRC requests hearing to argue tossing Kentucky Derby lawsuit

July 10, 2019 04:06pm

Attorneys representing the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission this week requested a hearing with judge Karen Caldwell regarding the KHRC’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the owners of Maximum Security over his disqualification from the Kentucky Derby.

The motion, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, states that Maximum Security owners Gary and Mary West are attempting to “claim legal rights to which they are not entitled” stemming from stewards’ May 4 ruling at Churchill Downs.

This response to the Wests’ June 24 motion claiming four violations of Fourteenth Amendment due process argues that “as much as the Wests may want to appeal Maximum Security’s disqualification after the Kentucky Derby, they must identify some state law that provides that right or identify a due process interest that requires it.”

The KHRC denied Maximum Security’s connections an appeal under the same grounds — that licensed owners in Kentucky have all signed agreeing that stewards’ decisions are final. That led to the Wests filing their lawsuit to put the call in a judge’s hands.

Of course, we all know what started this: a veer out at the 5/16 pole at Churchill Downs that led to Maximum Security’s demotion from first to 17th in the Derby, handing longshot Country House a victory as the only winner in the 145-year-old race to be put up due to interference.

The Wests have requested that while the lawsuit is in play, Maximum Security and Country House be deemed co-Derby winners.

This latest KHRC motion cites a number of legal precedents regarding the West’s claims that they were shorted liberty (in terms of an appeal) and property (the purse money) from the Derby.

Rather than lodge an objection minutes after the race, the motion reads, the Wests “‘appealed’ a disqualification determination…Such an appeal is not allowed under (state law). Thus, the Wests have not ‘placed in dispute’ the results of the Derby — at least not in a way recognized or allowed by controlling Kentucky law.”

In the days after the Derby, Gary West said his camp viewed angles that show War of Will, who trailed Maximum Security through the far turn at Churchill Downs, interferred with Maximum Security, causing him to move out from the rail under jockey Luis Saez, who is in the process of appealing a 15-day suspension.

Kentucky’s trio of stewards are Barbara Borden, Butch Becraft and Tyler Picklesimer.

“In Kentucky, as in every racing jurisdiction, fouls and disqualifications are determined in a summary fashion in the minutes immediately after the race,” the new motion reads. “…The stewards only have to determine that a foul occurred and that — in their opinion — it altered the finish of the race. They did so here.”

See last Friday's motion in full:


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