Jockey Luis Saez’s legal team, led by Louisville attorney Ann Oldfather, on Thursday submitted an appeal for his 15-day suspension levied following his Kentucky Derby ride aboard Maximum Security.
The appeal states that “the ruling and suspension have no evidentiary support whatsoever” after Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards cited Saez, whose mount was controversially disqualified, for “failure to control of 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.”
Country House was promoted to a win in the Derby when Maximum Security was placed 17th, behind Long Range Toddy, the farthest finisher back who was interfered with when the first horse across the wire veered out near the 5/16ths pole.
The KHRC’s suspension is for racing days, not calendar days, and the appeal called that sentence “unduly harsh.” Stewards have not elaborated on reasons behind its severity, with terms typically about three days unless jockeys are punished for repeat offenses.
The suspension runs from May 23-27, May 30-31, June 1-2, June 6-9 and June 13-14. Saez will be riding regularly at Belmont Park and could miss Belmont Stakes day on June 8.
"In all likelihood, Luis Saez will have as many as 4 to 5 rides on every one of the days for the ordered suspension,” the legal team wrote. "The loss of the opportunity to ride on these racing dates will lead to a substantial loss of income for Luis Saez, causing financial hardship which will be avoided if the appeal is successful.”
Saez’s team also requested that the suspension’s start be delayed until the appeal or “any subsequent judicial review (if necessary)” is complete.
In originally arguing against any further action following the disqualification, Saez’s camp produced a video attempting to evidence that War of Will, traveling closely behind Maximum Security, made contact that forced Saez’s mount to move.
Maximum Security owners Gary and Mary West are taking a similar case to court in attempting to overturn the Derby disqualification.
Oldfather's firm provided in the appeal nine reasons for it: