Maximum Security Disqualified at Kentucky Derby

Anna Farrar, News Editor

For the second time in history, the first horse to cross the finish of the Kentucky Derby has been disqualified. Maximum Security’s disqualification enabled initial-second place Country House to be crowned 145th winner of the Derby.

Maximum Security was disqualified for physical action during the race. Besides the 1968 initial winner, who was disqualified over a drug test, this elimination is unprecedented.

“We were stunned, shocked and in total disbelief,” co-worker Gary West said in an exclusive interview on “Today.” “The appeal has to be filed within 48 hours, so we’ll be filing that today.”

However, the Derby committee quickly denied the appeal Monday, May 6, citing that the committee’s decision could not be appealed.

“The stewards unanimously disqualified Maximum Security following two objections lodged immediately after the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby and after a thorough review of the race replay,” the commission’s letter stated. “That determination is not subject to an appeal.”

West admits to seeing Maximum Security leave his lane during the race on Saturday, but stands by his appeal. He says that the Derby course, which allows 20 horses instead of the regulation 14 lanes, endangers horses’ and people’s lives.

Senior Maddy Fagala sees horses “drift out of their lane all the time” at her job at the Fairmont  Park Racetrack in Collinsville. Fagala, however, agrees with the committee’s decision; she believes the sport is more criticized for enforcing the rules than ensuring safety.

“When I see racing incidents, I always try to estimate how much trouble it could cost a horse and its jockey,” Fagala said. “In this case, the consequences of Maximum Security’s violation could have been terrible.

Fagala foresaw possible havoc between the horses and the jockeys, especially if Maximum Security and the other horses’ legs were to get tangled. West also references safety as a reason for the disqualification.

“Churchill Downs, because they’re a greedy organization, has rather than 14 like you have in the Kentucky Oaks, the Breeders’ Cup, every other race in America, just because they can make more money, they’re willing to risk horses’ lives and people’s lives to do that,” West said. “Every Kentucky Derby, you could sit down two or three or four horses if you wanted to because it’s like a rodeo out there.”