Maximum Security jockey Luis Saez appeals suspension based on lack of 'substantial evidence'

Jockey Luis Saez is seen at Churchill Downs Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Saez rides Maximum Security in the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 4. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)
Jockey Luis Saez is appealing the 15-day suspension from the Kentucky Derby disqualification. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Luis Saez, Maximum Security’s jockey for the Kentucky Derby, has filed his appeal of a 15-day suspension resulting from his role in the historic disqualification at Churchill Downs.

Saez and his legal team filed the appeal Thursday, per the Louisville Courier-Journal, arguing that the punishment by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is “unduly harsh” and is not based on any “substantial evidence.”

Saez appeal focuses on missed protocol

The commission suspended Saez for his “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 and Louisville attorney Ann Oldfather based their appeal around nine points, per the Courier-Journal. Many of them are regarding missed protocol during and after the race and a poor review of the race.

"Indeed, the ruling and suspension have no evidentiary support whatsoever," the appeal reads.

Included in the appeal, per the Courier-Journal:

  • Allegation the stewards did not interview all affected jockeys, as they publicly said, and did not conduct an adequate review. The stewards did not use “regularly available and normally utilized technology (slow motion and stop frame)” to analyze the frames of the race one by one.

  • A “lack of understanding of the actual events” based on the stewards’ ruling of the appeal and belief Maximum Security interfered with War of Will.

  • A lack of protocol that includes failure to provide written notice and an evidentiary hearing to Saez as well as not following up on another jockey’s claim of foul against War of Will. “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.”

During the stewards meeting, Saez and his team presented a video slowing down the race and freezing it during frames to allege War of Will was at fault.

Lawyers request for stay

Saez’s lawyers asked for a “request for stay pending appeal” so that he can continue racing while the appeal make its way through the court system. Saez is committed to racing at Belmont Park in New York during the suspension, which covers May 23-27, May 30-31, June 1-2, June 6-9 and June 13-14.

Per the request, via the 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. 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."

Owners file ‘unconstitutional’ lawsuit

Gary and Mary West, owners of Maximum Security, settled on a legal option Wednesday and filed a lawsuit challenging the disqualification on the grounds it was “unconstitutional.” Their immediate appeal to the KHRC was denied the Monday it was filed after the race.

Upon Maximum Security’s disqualification for interfering with the progress of War of Will, Country House was named the winner. Maximum Security dropped to 17th officially.

The Wests want Maximum Security to be declared the winner of the 145th Kentucky Derby and receive the winner’s share of the purse.

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