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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing



Gary West’s Statement regarding Court’s dismissal of Maximum Security lawsuit:

“The Court’s decision holding that disqualification decisions by Kentucky’s stewards are never “subject to judicial or any kind of review” literally puts Kentucky’s stewards above the law.

Stewards’ decisions are of momentous financial and intangible importance to owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, and the betting public. The transparency and reviewability of decisions by stewards is essential to the integrity of racing in America and is critical to the public’s confidence in the sport. Sadly, the Court’s Opinion allows secret deliberations by Kentucky’s stewards that affect millions of people and billions of dollars to forever go unreviewable by any court; indeed, by anyone, no matter how negligent, reckless or nefarious such secretly-made decisions may be.

The opportunities for abuses under such a bizarre and un-American system are self-evident. This is an outrageous state of affairs that does irreparable damage to the “trust” in the sport of thoroughbred racing in Kentucky.

As important as it is to me to have a court review the stewards’ disqualification of Maximum Security, this case has now become much bigger than that. It’s now a case about Due Process and the fundamental fairness of how racing is conducted in Kentucky. The secret and unreviewable actions by state actors that have been authorized by the Court’s Opinion are the way things are done under totalitarian regimes in third world countries. The Kentucky State Racing Commission should be ashamed to have created a “rule” like this; it is no wonder most people routinely question stewards’ rulings on disqualifications. I, and nearly everyone, have been operating under the belief that in America “Due Process” was an inalienable right. But that is simply not true in Kentucky racing.

I cannot and will not allow such a dangerous precedent to stand unchallenged. I have, therefore, authorized my attorneys to immediately appeal.”

Gary West

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4 Responses

  1. Owner West could decide not to run in KY ever again. Good ol’ boys operating outside of judicial oversight is a bad deal. The ridiculous amount of time it took to make a “call” on Derby proves that stewards themselves didn’t really know what to do. I think owners of Genuine Risk sued Pimlico over Codex foul in Preakness and it took a long time to resolve (in favor of Codex). Appeal will go nowhere but have to agree w/Mr. West that he is getting screwed for a second time (if you believe MAX should’ve stayed up). I am one of those who believe this.

  2. Hey Mal,

    I might have mentioned this dozens of times before but once more couldn’t hurt, right?

    Adjudication took 22 minutes because that was the amount of time needed to look at every facet of the incident. Never mind the history making consequences ,but a 20-horse field on a wet track in which three horses had their progress impeded needed intense scrutiny.

    After looking at the race from every conceivable angle, the stewards still needed to decide where to place Maximum Security appropriately. To do that, they had to determine if the fault lay elsewhere, too.

    I’m not saying you are guilty of this but when all reasonable disagreement fails, those who disagree resort to the last remaining option: Process. Sound familiar

    In today’s “woke” environment, and with the sport under siege, the Kentucky Derby cannot and should be adjudicated in a vacuum, different from race in which carelessness or recklessness could have led to human and/or equine tragedy.

    1. Well stated. I haven’t got a clue as to what was the right thing to do. Just seems that MAX was about to wire the field and then all hell broke loose. Maybe I am still reliving the Codex/Genuine Risk affair forty years later and taking the side of MAX. I appreciate you mentioning him in your recent posts, ‘tho. Plus, who knows where the “law” would have come down on this historic episode on the 1st Saturday in May. Thanks for the opinion, stronger than my own and more informed for sure.

  3. Contextually, there’s no right or wrong here, just opinion. And it probably will surprise a lot of people when I reiterate that as the race was run, I believe that Maximum Security was the best horse and earned his win on the racetrack.

    But in doing so he seriously impeded the chances of several rivals. As a matter of course, that cannot stand, and it didn’t. West needs to move on.

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