The owner of disqualified Kentucky Derby ‘winner’ Maximum Security has issued an extraordinary $20m (£15.7m) challenge to his rivals.
Gary West is offering $5m (£3.9m) each to the owners of Country House, War of Will, Long Range Toddy and Bodexpress if any of those horses finish ahead of his colt the next time they race against him this year.
“Most experts agree that Maximum Security was the best horse in the Kentucky Derby,” West said in issuing his challenge.
“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 three-year-old in the country and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is.”
Maximum Security veered out of line on the final turn and impeded War of Will and Long Range Toddy, prompting stewards to demote the initial victor to 17th place.
Country House, a 65-1 outsider, was promoted to winner of the $3m (£2.2m) race which was watched by by a crowd of 150,000.
If Maximum Security loses any rematch, West said he would pay out, but his rivals would have to stump up if his horse triumphs.
West said his offer had nothing to do with what happened to his horse in the Kentucky Derby, where Maximum Security was disqualified after stewards agreed he interfered with the path of other horses in the final turn before the home stretch.
Maximum Security, the 4-1 favourite at Churchill Downs, was the first winner to be disqualified for an on-track incident in the event’s 145-year history.
According to West’s statement, there are no restrictions as to the type of race, location, distance or track surface, and the offer is only valid for the next time Maximum Security races against any of the other horses.
West would donate any of Maximum Security’s winnings from the challenge to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys’ Fund. If no owners accept the challenge, he has pledged to give 10% of Maximum Security’s future lifetime racing earnings to the organisation.
“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,” he said.
United States president Donald Trump was among those to criticise the disqualification.
“Only in these days of political correctness could such an overturn occur. The best horse did NOT win the Kentucky Derby – not even close,” said Trump on Twitter: