Kentucky Derby Still Contentious

The Saga Continues
While the Run for the Roses ended over one week ago, machinations still are taking place involving the race’s final outcome. Recently, jockey Luis Saez, who rode Maximum Security, was suspended 15 days by stewards in Kentucky for failing to maintain a straight course.

Gary and Mary West’s Maximum Security was disqualified from victory and placed 17th by the stewards after it was determined he had veered out and caused direct interference with War of Will and chain-reaction interference with Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress.

Saez, who is currently riding at Belmont Park, was represented at the May 10 film review by Louisville, Ky. attorney Ann Oldfather. Oldfather, who was not allowed to address the stewards at the May 10 session, had presented the stewards with a video that made the argument other riders and horses caused or contributed to the foul. The stewards offered no assurances they would view the video.

If the appeal for Saez moves forward, it typically is reviewed by a hearing officer who would make a recommendation to the full commission after a hearing. The spokesperson said they have 10 days to file an appeal request and would look forward to presenting proof at the hearing that Saez did nothing wrong, calling the stewards’ decision, “completely unsupported by the facts.”

Man O’ War Stakes Recap
Chad Brown’s Focus Group and Aidan O’Brien’s Magic Wand figured prominently in last Saturday’s Man O’ War Stakes at Belmont at 1 3/16 miles on a good turf course. O’Brien, known as one of the top turf trainers in the world send over Hunting Horn as a pacesetter for Magic Wand.

At the top of the stretch it looked like Hunting Horn and jockey Michael Hussey might’ve stolen the race, going to the lead and never looking back. However, at midstretch a cavalry of horses emerged as Bill Mott’s Channel Maker claimed victory, with Brad Cox’s late-running Arklow finished second.

Making his first Belmont start since winning the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in September, Channel Maker settled off Irish import Hunting Horn’s early pace, leading the nine-horse field through a crisp opening quarter-mile in 22.98 seconds, the half in 47.47, three-quarters in 1:12.48 and a mile in 1:36.27 on the firm inner turf.

Staying in third position under jockey Joel Rosario, Channel Maker covered up along the backstretch behind Epical as Hunting Horn maintained his advantage entering the final turn. In the stretch, Rosario asked for more, and the Ontario-bred Channel Maker responded with a strong surge from the outside.

Arklow, under Florent Geroux, made his bid from the outside with Magic Wand in close pursuit, but Channel Maker hit the wire in 2:12.43 to complete the 1 3/8-mile test that served as the finale of five stakes on a packed Man o’ War Racing Festival card.

“He’s a good horse and runs hard all the time. I’m glad we got the money today,” Rosario told NYRA publicity. “I thought the horse [Hunting Horn] around the last turn might keep going, but I thought he was going too fast for the distance and the last half-furlong would be tough to get. I felt confident, and he’s [Channel Maker] the kind of horse that has a good, strong stride. The more you ride him, the more he gives to you.”

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Channel Maker won his third career graded stakes. Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Gary Barber, R.A. Hill Stable and Wachtel Stable, the gelded son of English Channel registered his first on-the-board finish in his 5-year-old campaign after running fifth in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational and fourth in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at Gulfstream Park.

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