Lawsuit filed by owners of disqualified Kentucky Derby runner

The owners of the Kentucky Derby disqualified Maximum Security, Gary and Mary West, have filed a lawsuit in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Lexington Division, seeking to have the disqualification overturned. Maximum Security was first past the post but disqualified by stewards' for interference.

The lawsuit refers to the disqualification of Maximum Security from first to 17th as a "bizarre and unconstitutional process."

"The insubstantiality of the evidence relied on by the stewards to disqualify Maximum Security, and the bizarre and unconstitutional process to which the plaintiffs were subjected before and after the disqualification, are the subjects of this action," said a West media statement attributes to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit commented on other aspects such as:

Either during the running of the Derby or after, the stewards could have directed a sign be flashed on the infield board informing the public that an inquiry was being conducted by them to determine whether a foul had been committed. Having not observed any foul or interference, there was no inquiry by the stewards.

According to the lawsuit, an objection was first lodged by Flavien Prat, the jockey on Country House, who was declared the winner after the disqualification. Prat's objection was disallowed as "meritless." An objection was also lodged by Jon Court, the rider of Long Range Toddy, who finished 17th, and Court's objection was allowed. 

The statement issued by the stewards after the disqualification, according to the lawsuit, said: "We interviewed affected riders" and "determined" that Maximum Security had "drifted out and impacted the progress of Number 1 (War of Will), in turn interfering with the 18 (Long Range Toddy) and 21 (Bodexpress)."

The Wests' lawsuit notes the stewards said nothing about whether the alleged foul altered the finish of the Derby or otherwise caused any horse to have been denied a better placement in the order of finish. Bodexpress finished 14th, and neither Tyler Gaffalione (the rider of War of Will) nor War of Will's connections—nor Bodexpress' connections and jockey Chris Landeros—lodged any objection with the stewards.

According to the lawsuit, neither Gaffalione, the rider of the horse the stewards said was the most "affected" by Maximum Security, nor Landeros were interviewed by the stewards.

"When the stewards said in their statement that they 'interviewed affected riders,' they were not truthful because neither Gaffalione nor Landeros was interviewed by the stewards," the lawsuit states.

The Wests filed the lawsuit after pursuing an appeal with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and having that request denied because state law does not allow for appeals. All stewards' findings are considered final.

Seeking redress from a violation of due process rights, the lawsuit requests "a reversal of the decision disqualifying Maximum Security and reinstatement of the original order of finish confirming that Maximum Security is the official winner of the Derby who remains undefeated."

The lawsuit also notes the disqualification of Maximum Security affected wagers estimated to be worth more than $100 million in winnings. Within a couple hours after the Derby, the online wagering platform and other Churchill Downs-related companies announced they would reimburse winning wagers on Maximum Security.

"Which can be viewed as an admission that Churchill itself disagreed with the stewards' decision," the Wests' statement read. "Those bettors who did not wager through Churchill-related companies were left with no financial recourse, notwithstanding that Churchill received significant revenue from all of the outlets to whom they sent their signal."