May 7 (UPI) -- The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has denied an appeal of the disqualification of Maximum Security from victory in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, likely sending the official result of America's most famous race to a court battle.
Owner Gary West said he will take his case to the courts "in the appropriate jurisdiction" and will not send his horse to the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the May 18 Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.
Maximum Security finished first in the 145th Run for the Roses, 1 3/4 lengths in front of Country House. But the three-member panel of stewards ruled after 22 minutes of deliberations that the colt had interfered with several other horses while drifting out at the top of the stretch. He was set down behind the last-finishing of those, to 17th place.
The decision promoted Country House to victory even though he was not directly involved in the foul and it was unlikely he would have beaten Maximum Security even without the mishap.
The winner's share of this year's Kentucky Derby purse was $1.86 million.
West's appeal was denied, the commission said in a brief statement Monday, because Kentucky racing rules specify that such stewards' decisions are not subject to appeal and owners racing in Kentucky agree to be bound by those rules.
While the legal tussle over the first jewel of the Triple Crown heads for court somewhere, the field continued to take shape in Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes with beaten Derby favorite Improbable confirmed on course for the race.
Improbable, trained by five-time Kentucky Derby-winner Bob Baffert, finished fifth in this year's Run for the Roses and was promoted to fourth by the disqualification.
"I think he ran very well," Baffert told Pimlico media staff Tuesday. "They were all stuck there together, all bunched up. When he finally got loose, he made a little run."
Bourbon War, fourth in the Grade I Florida Derby in his most recent start, is likely for the Preakness, trainer Mark Hennig said. He noted Bourbon War rallied from well back to finish fourth in Gulfstream Park's top 3-year-old event, won by Maximum Security. Code of Honor, placed second in the Kentucky Derby, was third in the Florida Derby.
"He and Code of Honor have been pretty close together in their races," Hennig said. "Maximum Security certainly showed up and held up that form from Florida, so I think it seems like a smart move to try the Preakness."
War of Will, who took the worst of the Churchill Downs dust-up, luckily emerged unscathed and remains on track for the Preakness, Allen Hardy, assistant to trainer Mark Casse, said.
"It was just an unfortunate day," Hardy said of the Kentucky Derby. "But you know what? Nobody got hurt and nobody was injured. He's looking healthy and we'll progress from here and see what happens."
War of Will, after being dangerously impeded by Maximum Security, finished eighth in Louisville and was moved up to seventh.
"New shooters" -- horses who did not contest the Derby -- Owendale and Signalman also are progressing toward a Preakness start, according to their connections.
Also listed as "likely" for the Preakness according to Pimlico:
Alwaysmining, who extended his winning streak to six races in the Federico Tesio at Laurel Park on April 20; Anothertwistafate, runner-up in the Grade III Lexington at Keeneland and the Grade III Sunland Derby in his last two races; Laughing Fox, winner of the inaugural Oaklawn Park Invitational; Mr. Money, winner of the Grade III Pat Day Mile on the Derby undercard; and Bodexpress, 13th in the Kentucky Derby.