‘An Outrageous State Of Affairs’: Wests Plan To Appeal Judge’s Dismissal Of Maximum Security Kentucky Derby Lawsuit

by | 11.18.2019 | 12:59pm
Horses rounding the turn in the Kentucky Derby, in which Maximum Security (pink silks) was disqualified

Gary West, the owner of Maximum Security along with his wife Mary, said in a statement Monday that the Wests plan to appeal a judge's ruling last week that dismissed their lawsuit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission and the stewards who disqualified their horse from this year's Kentucky Derby.

“Kentucky's regulations make clear that the disqualification is not subject to judicial review,” read judge Karen Caldwell's opinion. “Further, the disqualification procedure does not implicate an interest protected under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

“Accordingly, the Court must grant the motion to dismiss.”

Gary West issued the following statement in response:

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.

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