By Bill Finley
Still stung by the disqualification of Maximum Security (New Year's Day) in the GI Kentucky Derby, co-owner Gary West has told his stable manager Ben Glass that he is seriously considering leaving the sport.
Though West gave several interviews early in the day on Sunday, he declined to speak to the TDN yesterday afternoon. Glass said that is because he is scheduled to appear on NBC's Today Monday morning and promised the network an exclusive interview. But Glass was able to provide updates on the situation after consulting with West.
He confirmed several reports that West will appeal the decision and that he will do so “first thing [Monday] morning.”
West, who co-owns Maximum Security with his wife, Mary, hired Lexington-based attorney Barry Stilz to represent him and to file the appeal with the Kentucky Racing Commission. According to the Daily Racing Form, in Kentucky, decisions of the stewards “shall be final and shall not be subject to appeal.” That likely means that their appeal will quickly be rejected by the Racing Commission, but Glass said that if that happens the Wests will go to court to try and have the stewards' decision overturned.
Glass said that Gary West was more “disheartened than upset.”
“He said, 'You know what Benny, we tried to do this for 40 years and now we did it and the whole world is telling us we got robbed,” Glass said. “He said, 'We've been doing this for 40 years and in 22 minutes they took it all away from us. Mr. West told me today that he thought maybe this would be a good time to graciously bow out of racing. He's spent hundreds of millions of dollars in Kentucky on racehorses and after this he thinks that maybe his time and resources could be put to better use.”
Glass said that if West does divest his racing and breeding stock he would spend more time and money on one of his other passions, The Gary and Mary West Foundation. According to the charity's website, the foundation is a “501(c)(3) private, non-operating Foundation, established in 2006 and solely funded by Gary and Mary West, provid[ing] outcomes-based funding to support initiatives that lower the cost of healthcare to enable seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence.”
“He spends millions on his foundation and a lot of time on it,” Glass said. “He's thinking it may be time to do even more for the elderly. He's at a crossroads right now. He's 73 and thinking maybe it's time to bow out of racing and spend more of his time helping the needy.”
When asked if he thought West was serious, Glass replied: “I can't tell you. Only he knows. But he's never said that to me before. I think this hurt him really bad.”
Glass said that he and the Wests have heard from people all over the world that they were “robbed.”
“It's not just what we think, it's what everybody is telling us, that we got robbed,” he said. “Right up to the President. The President tweeted that we got robbed. Mr. West has horses in Australia and they said the whole country there can't believe this.”
Glass also questioned why the stewards took so long to reach a decision.
“How many times have you seen objections take 23 minutes?” he said. “I'm not a steward and don't want to be. But if I can't make a decision quicker than 22-23 minutes to see if there was a foul then I'm really thinking they're looking to do something. That's the way I look at it. Then to let Mary West stand there for 20 minutes holding the roses and then to take them away from her. My God…and over a bad judgment call like that by stewards.”
Maximum Security is expected to arrive Monday at the Monmouth Park barn of trainer Jason Servis. As to whether or not the horse will run in the Preakness, Glass said the decision will be left up to the trainer.
“The Preakness is up to Jason,” he said. “The horse came out of the race fine, so we're good there. Whether Jason wants to run back in Preakness, I don't know. We'll see what he says.”
Glass knows that as good as Maximum Security is, there are no guarantees he will run as well in the Preakness, or any other race, as he did in the Derby.
“It was a very tough night,” he said. “It was terrible because we absolutely had the best horse. He may never throw that race again, but he threw it on the day we needed it.”