The fallout continues over Kentucky Derby 145, this time with suspension of the jockey whose horse crossed the finish line but was disqualified for interference.
Kentucky stewards on Sunday suspended Luis Saez 15 racing days for his ride on Maximum Security in the May 4 classic at Churchill Downs. Maximum Security's number came down, resulting in his being placed 17th, after foul claims by jockeys Flavien Prat (Country House, elevated from second to first) and Jon Court (Long Range Toddy, placed 16th).
In a ruling posted Monday to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission website, stewards cited Saez's "failure to control 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.
Saez's suspension is set to begin May 23 and last through June 14.
In a statement to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Louisville-based attorney Ann Oldfather said Saez will appeal, saying the "stewards ruling is completely unsupported and the suspension is unsupportable. We look forward to the opportunity to present proof that Luis is not at fault and should not have been suspended or disciplined for any reason."
In the most controversial Derby since 1968 winner Dancer's Image was disqualified for a drug violation, Maximum Security crossed the finish line first by 1 3/4 lengths. Owners Gary and Mary West have stated they'll explore "legal options" in looking to overturn results after the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission denied a written appeal.
A Preakness rematch between Maximum Security, trained by Jason Servis, and the Bill Mott-trained Country House fell through quickly when both were removed from consideration for Saturday's Triple Crown event at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Including Code of Honor and Tactitus, the top four Derby finishers will miss the Preakness for the first time since 1951.
Saez is now riding at New York's Belmont Park, where on Saturday he won the Grade 3 Peter Pan Stakes aboard Global Campaign, now a potential contender for the June 8 Belmont Stakes. Saez won the 2018 Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on Magnum Moon for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Entries will be drawn today for the mile-and-three-sixteenths Preakness with the Oaklawn Park-raced Improbable, Laughing Fox, Warrior's Charge and Market King anticipated starters Saturday.
Warrior's Charge trainer Brad Cox also is pointing Keeneland stakes winner Owendale to the race. Improbable is trained by Bob Baffert, who has a record-tying seven Preakness winners, and Laughing Fox by two-time race winner Steve Asmussen, both racing Hall of Famers. Laughing Fox, gaining an automatic entry with his May 4 victory in the inaugural Oaklawn Invitational, is a Union Rags colt owned by Arkansas Racing Commission chairman Alex Lieblong and wife JoAnn, of Conway.
Oaklawn maiden winner Market King represents Hall of Fame trainer and six-time Preakness winner Wayne Lukas, who last won the race in 2013 with Oxbow and finished second last year with Oaklawn winner Bravazo. Jon Court rides for longtime Lukas clients Robert Baker and William Mack.
"Looking at the field, I think it's a real competitive field, but I think it's a doable deal," Lukas said. "They're only 3 once; they only get that opportunity one time. If you pass it up, the hill gets steeper in the fall without a doubt. If you like your horse, you give them a shot when they're 3. But I think there's about seven or eight of them in there taking a shot."Sports on 05/14/2019
Print Headline: Kentucky stewards suspend jockey Saez 15 days