May 6 (UPI) -- The Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the U.S. Triple Crown, will be run without Maximum Security, who finished first in the Kentucky Derby, but was demoted to 17th for interference, his owner, Gary West, said Monday.
Appearing on NBC-TV's The Today Show from his California home, West called Churchill Downs "greedy" for allowing 20 horses to participate in the Run for the Roses and said he will do whatever he can to appeal the stewards' decision, which cost him the $1.86 million winner's share of the Derby purse.
Whatever the outcome, he said, Maximum Security will not pursue the Triple Crown's second leg at Pimlico on May 18.
"We're not going to run in the Preakness. There's no Triple Crown on the line for us and there's no reason to run a horse back in two weeks when you don't have to," West said.
He admitted he saw Maximum Security "move out" into the path of War of Will at the top of the stretch, impeding that rival and two others. But he blamed the track for creating the situation.
"Churchill Downs -- because they're a greedy organization -- has [20 horses in the Derby] rather than 14 like you have in the Kentucky Oaks, the Breeders' Cup and every other race in America. Just because they can make more money, they're willing to risk horses lives and people's lives to do that. I'm not a fan of that. I think they should have 14 like every other race," West said.
"But, yes, I saw the horse move out. Every Kentucky Derby, you could set down two or three horses or four horses if you wanted to because it's like a rodeo out there," he said.
With the Kentucky Derby now in the hands of lawyers, the rest of the racing world turns to the Preakness.
Country House, promoted to victory in the Run for the Roses, certainly is not required to contest the Preakness. But the tantalizing goal of the Triple Crown is a powerful attraction. Trainer Bill Mott said Country House is figuring things out and is big and tough enough to stand up to a lot of racing.
"When I saw that we finished second, I thought the Belmont will be the perfect race," Mott said. "The Preakness is not even something that we've thought about or discussed. It probably wouldn't have been my first inclination to do that ... We'll think about it. We'll see how he is. That's a big task."
Likewise, Bob Baffert said he's still drawing up plans for his Derby trio of Improbably (placed fourth), Game Winner (placed fifth) and Roadster (placed 15th).
Others who might go? Trainer Shug McGaughey said he will leave it up to owner/breeder Will Farish whether Code of Honor, who was placed second in the Derby, will go to Baltimore but added, "I've never won the Preakness and would love to win the Preakness. But not at the expense of the horse."
Mark Casse said War of Will, the worst victim of the Derby shenanigans, is likely for the Preakness. "As long as he's happy and healthy, we'll probably go," the trainer said. War of Will finished eighth after the interference and moved up to seventh after Maximum Security's disqualification.
Then there are the "new shooters" -- the 3-year-olds who have been developing in the Mid-Atlantic region with the full intent of sitting out the Derby, staying home and running fresh in the Preakness.
The one sure "new shooter" is Always Mining, winner of the Federico Tessio at Laurel Park, just down the road from Pimlico. Mr. Money, winner of Saturday's Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs, also is under consideration.
And on Saturday at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, Laughing Fox earned a guaranteed spot in the second jewel of the Triple Crown with a victory in the inaugural running of the Oaklawn Invitational, an innovation attending the extension of the Arkansas track's spring season.
Laughing Fox, a Union Rags colt trained by Steve Asmussen, rallied four-wide from well back in the pack in the $300,000 Invitational and just edged Night Ops by a neck for the win. It was 3 1/2 lengths farther back to Proverb in third. Laughing Fox, fourth in the Arkansas Derby, ran 9 furlongs in 1:49.78 over a fast track with Ramon Vazquez riding in the Invitational.
"We'll just have to see how he does come bouncing out of it," said owner Alex Lieblong. "But he's a stout horse. The Preakness really had nothing to do with (the decision to run Saturday). Nothing."