After MAXIMUM SECURITY was disqualified from his Win in the Kentucky Derby for veering out through the far turn, Kentucky stewards on Sunday assessed his jockey, Luis Saez, a suspension lasting 15 racing days.
The ruling, posted Monday to the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission website, follows a well-publicized hearing and film review for which Saez hired an attorney to argue that WAR OF WILL, with jockey Tyler Gaffalione, interfered with MAXIMUM SECURITY from behind, causing the move that led to the DQ.
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 listed to begin May 23 and last through June 14.
Louisville-based attorney Ann Oldfather said Saez will appeal.
“The stewards’ ruling is completely unsupported and the suspension is unsupportable,” Oldfather said. “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.”
Such sanctions are common after horses are disqualified, but the terms of this one seem a bit heavy handed. The most-recent suspension for a rider was, ironically, for Gaffalione on April 25 due to “careless riding” at Keeneland. He served the standard three days.
Among those reacting to the news Monday were Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who tweeted that it was “terrible.” Don Chatlos, a Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer who now works as an assistant to Jerry Hollendorfer, said, “There have been a lot of bad decisions by stewards across the country but this one is right near the top.”
The suspension is the latest development following a historic — and controversial — Derby, with MAXIMUM SECURITY the first horse disqualified in the race’s 145-year history for interference on the track.
The rule stewards applied to their decision reads: “If in the opinion of the stewards a foul is committed as a result of a jockey not making his best effort to control and guide his mount to a avoid a foul, whether intentionally or through careless incompetence, the jockey may be penalized at the discretion of the stewards.”
The Daily Racing Blog is of the opinion that the suspension is warranted, given that it seems in line with other DQ’s of this nature. What seems a bit out of whack is the length of the suspension. The track stewards and/or the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission come off as thin skinned- harshly punishing any person or group that doggedly question their judgement. The appeal should be upheld and the suspension lessened. Kinda like all the P.E.D. cases in other sports.