‘Shocked’ owner of Kentucky Derby horse Maximum Security appeals disqualification — and pulls horse from Preakness

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - MAY 02: Country House trains on the track during morning workouts in preparation for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Maximum Security, the horse that made history by being disqualified from Saturday’s Kentucky Derby for a rules infraction, will not run in the Preakness Stakes, the next leg of racing’s Triple Crown, his owner said in an interview with NBC on Monday.

“I think there is no Triple Crown on the line for us, and there is no reason to run a horse back in two weeks when you don’t have to,” Gary West said in an interview on the network’s “Today” show.

However, West also said an appeal will be filed Monday with Kentucky’s state racing commission.

“I think this is something that’s big enough that the entire racing world is looking at this, and I think they deserve an opportunity to really know what was going on,” West said.

Maximum Security, who led the Derby from wire to wire and crossed the finish line 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Country House, was disqualified for interference while turning for home. Officials decided that Maximum Security impacted the progress of War of Will, which in turn interfered with Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress. Country House was declared the winner.

The stewards who made the ruling did not take questions, electing to read a prepared statement with the explanation.

It is the first time a Derby winner has been disqualified because of a foul on the track. In 1968, Dancer’s Image won but failed a drug test and was disqualified.

“I was a bit shocked and surprised that the stewards wrote a statement that was probably prepared by their lawyers and refused, literally refused, to take a single question from the media,” West said. “So they’ve been about as non-transparent about this whole thing as anything I have ever seen in my life.”

The Preakness, the second leg of the Triple Crown, is May 18 in Baltimore, and it remains to be seen if the Kentucky Derby winner will race.

On Sunday, Country House trainer Bill Mott was not ready to commit the horse to race the Preakness. Maryland Jockey Club’s President and General Manager Sal Sinatra formally invited the horse to the Preakness that morning.

“Having the Derby winner, you’re pretty much forced to go into the Preakness,” Mott said to reporters outside his barn at Churchill Downs.

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