The racing world was jolted when, for the first time in its 145-year history, the
apparent winner of the Kentucky Derby, held on May 4, 2019, was disqualified for a
foul during the running of the race. Maximum Security dropped to 17th place after
stewards concluded he interfered with other horses. Apparent second-place finisher
Country House was declared the official winner, taking home the coveted title and
the winner’s purse.
A new lawsuit, filed on May 14 in federal court in Kentucky on behalf of Maximum Security’s
owners by Dean Emeritus Ronald J. Riccio and Adjunct Professor Dennis Drazin, seeks to reverse that reversal and restore the
Derby roses to Maximum Security. Against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, the
suit claims that the disqualification process was “‘bizarre and unconstitutional,”
that the stewards’ decision was not supported by “substantial evidence on the whole
record,” and that there were a large number of errors in the process leading to the
Maximum Security’s owners had already appealed the decision two days after the Kentucky
Derby but the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission called the stewards’ decision “final”
and denied the appeal. The new lawsuit challenges that conclusion.