Maximum Security owner will appeal Kentucky Derby disqualification

Longtime Owner Gary West Devastated

In an interview on NBC’s “Today” show, West, speaking well before daybreak from his Rancho Santa Fe home, took strong issue with the decision and the race track.

“It was literally like the old TV show [‘Wide World of Sports’], the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat all within a 22-minute period of time,” West said. “Winning it was probably the most euphoric thing [wife] Mary and I have ever had in our lives and then disappointment when they took him down for the first time in history. We were stunned, shocked and in total disbelief. It had never been done before.”

West’s strongest words were directed at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby is the only major U.S. race that allows 20 starters. (Because of a scratch, there were 19 on Saturday.) Most major races in the U.S. are capped at 14 starters, either because of the width of the track or for the manageability of the race.

“Churchill Downs, because they are a greedy organization, [doesn’t run] 14 [in the Kentucky Derby] like you have in the Kentucky Oaks, Breeders Cup and just about every other race in America,” West said. “Just because they can make more money, they are willing to risk horses’ lives and peoples’ lives to do that. I’m not a fan of that. I think they ought to have 14 like every other race.”