Jockeys reportedly told Kentucky Derby stewards Maximum Security's Luis Saez wasn't at fault

All four jockeys who attended the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards meeting in the aftermath of the controversial Kentucky Derby said Luis Saez, jockey of Maximum Security, was not at fault, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Monday.

The Courier-Journal obtained audio from the May 10 meeting in which officials, jockeys and Saez’s attorney reviewed tape from Maximum Security’s victory. The horse was later disqualified at the track and Country House named the winner. 

Saez faces two more weekends in his 15-day suspension, as determined by the commission.

Saez: horse ‘reacted about something’

Saez phoned into the meeting. In attendance was his lawyer, Ann Oldfather, and the racing commission as well as jockeys Tyler Gaffalione (of War of Will), Jon Court (Long Range Toddy), Chris Landeros (Bodexpress) and Julien Leparoux (Master Fencer, but was there to represent Country Horse’s jockey).

All were involved in the “gnarly” mix-up during the race that resulted in Maximum Security’s DQ and Saez’ suspension more than a week later.

Saez told the race stewards, per the Courier-Journal, his horse was “reacting about something” when he veered slightly into the other horses’ path.

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145th running of the Kentucky Derby
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Riders cross the finish line at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Maximum Security ridden by jockey Luis Saez trots after the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Jockey Luis Saez of Maximum Security (7) reacts after the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Riders Bodexpress (21) ridden by Chris Landeros, Long Range Toddy (18) ridden by Jon Court and Maximum Security (7) ridden by Luis Saez battle for the lead early during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Riders Bodexpress (21) ridden by Chris Landeros, Long Range Toddy (18) ridden by Jon Court and Maximum Security (7) ridden by Luis Saez battle for an early lead during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Bodexpress ridden by Chris Landeros trots during the poll parade at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Long Range Toddy ridden by Jon Court trots during the poll parade at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Spinoff ridden by Manny Franco trots during the poll parade at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Cutting Humor ridden by Mike Smith trots during the poll parade at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Maximum Security is walked off the track after being disqualified for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Flavien Prat rides Country House to the finish line during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Country House was declared the winner after Maximum Security was disqualified following a review by race stewards. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A woman arrives at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Jockey Flavien Prat reacts learning he won the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race when Maximum Security was disqualified at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Greg Payan)
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Saez told stewards, per the Courier-Journal:

“In that moment I was not really sure (if it was) the crowd … for people taking (a) picture inside or somebody hit him from behind. The thing was he jumped at that moment.”

In a conversation with his attorney during the meeting Saez said the horse’s ears perked up and he felt “like [the horse] jumped.”

“My thing was (to) correct him right away,” Saez said, so that he didn’t hurt any other racers.

Gaffalione also said in the meeting Maximum Security saw something and “spooked from it,” though he disputed any serious wipeouts would have occurred.

From the Courier-Journal:

“This was the horse. You can see it,” Landeros said. “I mean, we ride horses day in and day out. He switched leads on him, and it’s hard. Especially, at that point of the turn, it's really hard. The turns here are a little tighter than normal tracks.”

Leparoux agreed and said “we probably will never know. But Luis tried his best.”

Jockeys don’t blame War of Will

Saez and his attorney argued that War of Will and jockey Gaffalione were to blame. Gaffalione has disputed it and the horse’s trainer even compared Saez to a “drunk driver.

Gaffalione reiterated he did not blame Saez in telling race stewards there was no contact between War of Will and Maximum Security. If there were, he said, “I wouldve ended up on the ground,” per the Courier-Journal. The other jockeys in attendance also voiced their opinion War of Will was not at fault.

Saez was the only jockey suspended for the incident at Churchill Downs. His 15-day racing suspension continues through this weekend, when the Belmont Stakes is held June 8, and June 13-14. The 26-year-old has appealed based on a lack of “substantial evidence.”

Who is competing at Belmont Stakes?

Neither Maximum Security nor Country House competed at the Preakness and they will not be at New York’s Belmont Stakes either. Bill Mott, Country House’s trainer, will be a part of the race with Tacitus, the horse most thought would be at the top at the Kentucky Derby results.

War of Will, the winner of the Preakness, is scheduled to race at Belmont. He will be the only horse to race all three legs of the Triple Crown this year.

War of Will heads into the final leg still holding the No. 1 spot in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s (NTRA) Top 3-Year-Old Poll. It’s his second week in the lead over Maximum Security at No. 2.

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