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Appeals court upholds Maximum Security’s disqualification from 2019 Kentucky Derby

The 2020 Kentucky Derby is just over a week away, but the winner of the 2019 race has finally been made official.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit made the decision on Friday to uphold the decision to disqualify Maximum Security from the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, crowning second-place finisher Country House as the winner. The owners of Maximum Security, Gary and Mary West, filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission (KHRC) 10 days after the race with the intent to overrule the outcome.

Back in Nov. 2019, U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell dismissed the case, essentially stating decisions regarding disqualifications are not one for a court to make. The Court of Appeals upheld that decision on Friday.

During the 2019 Derby, which happened nearly 16 months ago now, Maximum Security was disqualified to last place following the race after apparently swerving into others, impeding the progress of at least three other horses. According to, the West’s tried to claim that they were:

“Deprived ‘protected liberty and property interests’ by the disqualification of Maximum Security. But the appeals court said Kentucky law notes that participation in horse racing ‘is a privilege and not a personal right.'”

There was even a mention of the Higgins vs. Ky. Sports Radio case because why wouldn’t there be?

The 146th Kentucky Derby is scheduled to run in eight days on Sept. 5.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Recruiting reporter for KSR. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR