Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez is now officially suspended 15 racing days by Churchill Downs stewards for his ride in the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

Luis Saez
Jockey Luis Saez awaiting word that his mount, Maximum Security, is disqualified from the win in the 2019 Kentucky Derby (Image: AP)

Maximum Security, although crossing under the finish wire first, was disqualified for causing interference leaving the second and final turn of the 1 ¼ mile race.

The ruling, released Monday by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC), cites Saez for “failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course”

The Daily Racing Form notes that the suspension is five times longer than the typical three-day riding-infraction penalty for jockeys. It encompasses a 15-day period of racing. That period includes May 23-27, May 30-June 2, June 6-9, and June 13-14. Such suspensions are generally appealed and later reduced after negotiations between the stewards and the rider and his or her representatives. A suspended rider can generally postpone the penalty while under appeal. Saez is currently riding at Belmont Park in New York.

Various media reports are now indicating that, as expected, Saez will contest the suspension.

Stewards Reject Jock’s Kentucky Derby Defense

Barbara Borden, Tyler Picklesimer, and Butch Becraft, the three Churchill Downs stewards, were apparently unmoved after a hearing Friday with Louisville attorney Ann Oldfather. She’s representing Saez locally. Oldfather presented edited video to the stewards in defense of the veteran rider.

Oldfather is steering blame for the incident toward seventh-place War of Will and jockey Tyler Gaffalione, contending they caused contact by running up on the heels of Maximum Security. That, resulting in the DQ’d winner being unable to maintain a straight course.

The Derby victor through disqualification, 65/1 long shot Country House, although minimally impacted by Maximum Security’s sudden swerve towards the grandstand was declared the winner. Soon afterwards, trainer Bill Mott said the horse would be skipping the Preakness because of cold-like symptoms. Maximum Security is also passing the race. He’s at trainer Jason Servis’ headquarters at Monmouth Park in New Jersey awaiting summer engagements. Co-owner Gary West says Maximum Security is not heading to Baltimore and Pimlico because no undisputed Triple Crown – winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes – is now possible.

The three-member panel of judges agrees that because jockey Luis Saez was unable to keep the Maximum Security on a straight course around the final turn, rules stipulate a disqualification. Kentucky racing rules further require placing Maximum Security 17th. That’s behind all horses impacted by the interference.

By rule, an appeal of the Churchill stewards’ disqualification decision was rejected by KHRC. The Wests — Gary West’s wife Mary is a co-owner — continue to say they will take legal steps to overturn the removal of their horse as the Kentucky Derby winner. However, at this time, no court action is pending.

Here’s the official Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Ruling against Saez:

Luis Saez suspension letter

Preakness Missing Top Four Derby Finishers

None of the top four finishers before the disqualification, Maximum Security, Country House, Code of Honor and Tacitus are Baltimore and Preakness bound. That’s causing the 144th Preakness field to swell and experts are forecasting one of the most contentious and best gambling renewals of this historic race in recent memory. In most years, the Kentucky Derby favorite is odds on the win the Preakness.

This, the second jewel of Thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown, marks the first since 1951 in which none of the top four finishers in the Kentucky Derby will make the trip from Churchill Downs in Louisville to Baltimore. The Preakness draw is set for Wednesday.

The field will leave the starting gate Saturday at 6:48 p.m. ET. The race can be seen on NBC television.