Maximum Security and the Kentucky Derby Drama

May 7, 2019

Yes, we would love to move on from the 2019 Kentucky Derby. As we previously stated, the hits just keep on coming. Now owner and breeder of Maximum Security Gary West says he is convinced War of Will fouled his horse and had War of Will finished ahead of Maximum Security they would have claimed foul. To make it more interesting, West says he has the backing of about 20 ex racing officials who see it the way he does.

Here is what he had to say;

“I’m an objective guy and I talked with about 20 ex-racing officials to get their opinion of what they see on the tape. They all say there was evidence a blind man could see that my horse did nothing wrong and had War of Will won the race, we would have had a very legitimate claim of foul against him” 

We feel the obligation to put some clarity into this situation. Is Gary West correct? No, he isn’t. Is his view understandable? Yes but probably not for the reasons most will assume.

I have often said you get the best view of a replay a few days after the excitement and hype of a race die down. For that reason I did not watch a replay of the Kentucky Derby until Tuesday, mid morning.

Here is what I saw, and excuse the JFK second shooter reference. There were actually two incidents, very close together involving War of Will and Maximum Security. It is easy to miss one of them, especially if you are watching a slow motion version isolating one of the incidents. If you watch the race in entirety, and focus on the two horses in question, you will see what transpired in both separate incidents. It would appear the only logical explanation for Mr. West’s point of view is he and the 20 plus former racing officials are focusing on the first of the two occurrences.

Heading around the far turn War of Will does indeed run up on Maximum Security’s heels. This forces Tyler Gaffalione to pull back a bit and angle a lane or two outside. Maximum Security held a straight path and stayed in his lane at this point. This is incident one, between these two. This is also where they passed the photographer who should not have been there, but as it turns out did not cause the damage.

A few strides later, with War of Will angled out a lane or two, Maximum Security comes out from what rider Luis Saez described as noise from the crowd. This is the second incident between the two and the subject of the foul claim and subsequent disqualification.

Race watching, including replays is a learned art. Most focus on who they bet, who the announcer is calling, who is making a move, or who is on the lead. This is why for the sake of a bigger more accurate picture it pays to wait a few days and view it again. We have written about this very subject in the past. You can read our “Did You See That?” here.

Jockey Jon Court, the oldest jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby has weighed in. Court rode Long Range Toddy in the Derby and claimed foul. Court said he did not feel his mount was without a chance as many have stated. He felt that he had horse but lost it following the bump and could not get the horse to pick back up on the momentum he lost. He also said he felt the younger riders were not heeding to pre race steward instructions to ride a clean race and not take chances. Court feels the stewards made the right call.

Country House is now officially out of the Preakness and is reported to be coughing. The first three finishers from the Derby look like they will all miss the second jewel of the Triple Crown, The Preakness.


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