Maximum Security's Owner West Issues $20 Million Challenge to Kentucky Derby Rivals

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Gary West, owner of Maximum Security, has issued a challenge to select other Derby runners.
Gary West, owner of Maximum Security, has issued a challenge to select other Derby runners. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Gary West, owner of Maximum Security, is offering a $20 million reward to the owners of Country HouseWar of WillLong Range Toddy, and Bodexpress if any of those horses finish ahead of Maximum Security the next time any of them race against the colt through Dec. 31, 2019.

West will give the owners of Country House (the elevated winner of the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve); War of Will (placed 7th after finishing 8th); Bodexpress (placed 13th after finishing 14th) and Long Range Toddy (placed 16th after finishing 17th) $5 million each if they finish ahead of Maximum Security the next time they meet in a race. Kentucky stewards determined each of the latter three horses were fouled by Maximum Security in the Derby.

West announced the news via release May 17, one day before the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. His horse crossed the wire first in the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve but was disqualified to 17th for interference. Maximum Security is not running in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

"West believes his offer of $5 million apiece to each of those four horses—simply for finishing ahead of Maximum Security—would result in record viewership and would generate worldwide interest," the release read. "If all five horses meet in the same race, it would potentially create the most lucrative race in the world."

The release stated the $20 million would come from West, who is putting up "his own money." In return, West is asking the owners of the other four horses to give him $5 million each if Maximum Security finishes ahead of their horse in the official chart. 

"The owners of any or all of the other four horses wishing to participate would be required to put their $5 million in an escrow account, as West will do immediately for up to $20 million," the release stated.

West also is currently suing to have the Kentucky Derby disqualification overturned via a federal lawsuit filed May 14 with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Lexington Division. 

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, the commission's staff, and the stewards at Churchill Downs—Kentucky chief steward Barbara Borden, Brooks "Butch" Becraft, and association steward Tyler Picklesimer—are named as defendants in the lawsuit, which refers to the disqualification of Maximum Security from first to 17th as a "bizarre and unconstitutional process."

West said his $20 million offer and the results of this "match race within a race" have no bearing and nothing to do with his horse's disqualification in the Kentucky Derby.

"He is willing to stipulate to that publicly, contending that the outcome of the Kentucky Derby is a completely separate issue and event," the release read. "West's intention with this opportunity and challenge is simply to generate additional interest in the sport."

There are no restrictions as to the type of race, what racetrack it is held at, or the distance or track surface over which the race is contested. The offer is valid only for the next time Maximum Security meets any of the aforementioned horses in a race, whether it is in the same race or in four separate races.

"I am doing this because I think it would be good for racing and a unique opportunity to bring more people into racing because of the elevated interest this would bring to the sport," West said.

According to the release, no horse has to win the race; the offer is simply based on the head-to-head result with Maximum Security. The release stated one possible race for the 3-year-olds to converge again is the July 20 Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park, where Maximum Security is currently stabled, but the offer is open to any race at any track the next time Maximum Security faces each of the other four horses.

The release read, "West said if any of the other owners are not as confident in their horses as he is in Maximum Security, he would extend the same terms and conditions for the connections of Country House, War of Will, Bodexpress, and Long Range Toddy to put up $1.86 million instead."

That figure was the winner's share of the Kentucky Derby.

West will donate 100 percent of Maximum Security's winnings from this challenge (if any, and up to $20 million) to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. If no owners accept the challenge, West pledges to donate 10 percent of Maximum Security's future lifetime racing earnings to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.  

"Most experts agree that Maximum Security was the best horse in the Kentucky Derby," West said. "I don't care to discuss the controversy surrounding the events of the race and the disqualification of my horse at this time, but I firmly believe I have the best 3-year-old in the country and I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is.

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