Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez and his legal team have appealed his 15-day suspension for his disqualifying ride, saying the punishment was "unduly harsh."
The appeal states that the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission's decision to suspend Saez for 15 racing days after the 2019 Kentucky Derby was not supported by "substantial evidence."
"Indeed, the ruling and suspension have no evidentiary support whatsoever," the appeal reads.
In suspending the Panamanian jockey, the commission cited Saez's "failure to control of his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course, thereby causing interference with several rivals that resulted in the disqualification of his mount."
Maximum Security crossed the finish line first in the 145th Kentucky Derby but was disqualified and dropped to 17th when stewards ruled he drifted out of his running lane and impeded the progress of other horses.
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Maximum Security, with Luis Saez aboard (pink/center) crosses the finish line of the 145th Kentucky Derby. However, a protest was lodged and Country House was declared the winner.
May 4, 2019 (Photo: By Michael Clevenger and Michael Goodwin/Courier Journal)
Chief steward Barbara Borden said Maximum Security was disqualified for interfering with the progress of War of Will, who in turn interfered with Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress.
If the suspension is upheld, Saez will be prevented from racing May 23-27, May 30-31, June 1-2, June 6-9 and June 13-14, which would keep him out of the Belmont Stakes.
His legal team, led by Louisville attorney Ann Oldfather, laid out nine points in explaining the reason for the appeal. Among the reasons:
- The stewards "did not conduct a thorough or adequate review of the events due to their refusal to use regularly available and normally utilized technology (slow motion and stop frame) in analysis of digital films."
- The stewards' "lack of understanding of the actual events" during the Kentucky Derby is shown by their belief that Saez's horse interfered with War of Will. The appeal states the eventual winner, Country House, impeded Bodexpress before Maximum Security "moved out from his position."
- "The stewards did not provide written notice of an alleged violation nor did they provide an evidentiary hearing to Luis Saez prior to issuing the ruling."
- "The stewards declared publicly that all affected jockeys were interviewed. That is incorrect."
- "The stewards were presented with a timely claim of foul by another jockey against the jockey of No. 1 War of Will. That claim of foul is not mentioned after the race, and that jockey was not interviewed by the Stewards on the day of the race. The stewards failed to address this claim of foul against a different rider. Had they done so, in all likelihood the stewards would have determined that Luis Saez made a remarkable effort to steady his horse and prevent the potential for calamity initiated by another rider."
Saez's lawyers also submitted a "request for stay pending appeal" Wednesday to Racing Commission Executive Director Marc Guilfoil.
The request for stay pending appeal notes that Saez is already committed to racing at Belmont Park in New York during the days he is facing suspension.
Horse racing reporter Jason Frakes breaks down controversial stretch of the Kentucky Derby that saw Maximum Security disqualified.
Louisville Courier Journal
"In all likelihood, Luis Saez will have as many as 4 to 5 rides on every one of the days for the ordered suspension," Saez's legal team wrote in the request. "The loss of the opportunity to ride on these racing dates will lead to a substantial loss of income for Luis Saez, causing financial hardship which will be avoided if the appeal is successful."
The stay for appeal asks for the suspension to be halted during the appeal process and "any subsequent judicial review (if necessary)."
This story will be updated.
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