The aftermath of the 145th Kentucky Derby mirrors the quote “and the hits just keep on coming.” The discussions on social media, radio shows, and even on the news, shows people including industry insiders and experienced horsemen, as well as bettors and fans as divided over the disqualification as Republicans and Democrats on just about any political issue.
Gary West, owner and breeder of Maximum Security, announced the horse will not run in the Preakness. He is back at his summer home base of Monmouth Park and is scheduled to return to the races in a few months. The Haskell run at his home track seems a likely target as does the Travers at Saratoga. Trainer Jason Servis usually supports both of those meets.
Lexington-based attorney Barry Stilz, who representing West, later confirmed that an appeal was filed with the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. The commission’s regulations do not allow for appeals. The appeal has already been disallowed by the KHRC. Now West will have to take the matter to an outside court if he chooses.
Bill Mott has also said Country House will likely skip the Preakness. Shug McGaughey has said the Preakness is under consideration for Code of Honor, but he too is leaning towards the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga in the summer. Bob Baffert has confirmed Improbable for the Preakness and named Mike Smith to ride, in a season that has had what appears to be a higher than normal amount of musical jockeys on the male three year olds.
In yet another odd twist, a photographer has been spotted on stills taken from race replays standing near the quarter pole where there are not supposed to be photographers. Considering Maximum Security bore out about that point in the race, one has to question whether the photographer could have possibly spooked the horse. John Velazquez, the rider of Code of Honor told Shug McGaughey that his mount seemed to react to something around that same spot.
Tyler Gaffalione, who rode War of Will, the horse right outside of Maximum Security when he bore out, and took what looked to be the worst of it and almost clipped heels, has said he was not interviewed by the stewards prior to their changing the order of finish. In yet another coincidence, Tyler rode at Churchill over the weekend for owner Gary West. Tyler did not claim foul in the Kentucky Derby.
Jose Ortiz, who rode Bill Mott’s other horse Tacitus, the more highly regarded stablemate of Country House, the second place finisher who was declared the winner, finished fourth. He was ultimately placed third. When he returned to get unsaddled, he told Bill Mott he had a view of the incident and thought it was significant and warranted a claim of foul. Country House’s Derby rider, Flavien Prat, claimed foul even though it did not appear his horse was bothered, or if he was it was very minor. Coincidently, Jose’s brother, Irad Ortiz Jr., rode Maximum Security to his win at Gulfstream Park prior to his Florida Derby win. Irad rode Improbable for Bob Baffert in the Derby. Luis Saez, who rode Maximum Security in the Derby was the regular rider of Country House earlier this year. Joel Rosario rode Country House to a third place finish in the Arkansas Derby but stuck with owner Gary West’s other horse trained by Bob Baffert, Game Winner, for the Run for the Roses.
There is still no solid explanation of why the inquiry sign was not posted. The stewards refused to meet with Maximum Security’s connections to explain their decision after the races on Saturday. They offered to meet the following Thursday.
This is likely a Kentucky Derby we will be talking about for a while.
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