Meet Gary and Mary West: Kentucky Derby lawsuit looms over Preakness Stakes

The 144th Preakness Stakes will run on Saturday without the presence of disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security, as a legal battle between owners Gary and Mary West and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission overshadows the second leg of the Triple Crown.

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The Wests said Maximum Security would not run in the Preakness after their horse crossed the finish line first at the Kentucky Derby, only to be disqualified by race officials for interfering with other horses en route to victory. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, the couple has asked a judge to restore their $1.86 million and order their legal fees to be covered by the defendants.

“We remain convinced that our horse Maximum Security was the best horse in the 145th Kentucky Derby and that his decisive win on Saturday, May 4, is clearly and convincingly supported by the actual video of the race,” an attorney for the West family said in a statement earlier this month.

The West family owned two top contenders at this year’s Kentucky Derby in Maximum Security and Game Winner. A prolific name in horse racing circles, the couple made their fortune in the telecommunications industry.

After founding and eventually selling a telemarketing firm, Mary and Gary West founded West Corporation, a telecommunications company that employed 30,000 workers. The couple sold the majority of their stake in the company for $1.4 billion in 2006, according to Forbes, and have since devoted themselves to philanthropy and horse racing.

The Gary and Mary West Foundation has awarded more than $200 million in grants since 2006 to fund efforts to provide affordable health care options to elderly Americans. The couple also heads West Health, which conducts applied medical and policy research in the sector.

“My primary reason for existing in life is to help poor old people, and I know I sound like a broken record, with their medical and social services needs,” Gary West said in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune prior to the Derby.

This year’s Preakness Stakes will also run without the horse named the winner at the Kentucky Derby after Maximum Security’s disqualification. Country House withdrew from the race, forgoing a shot at the Triple Crown, after the horse showed signs of getting sick.


Improbable, a horse trained by racing legend Bob Baffert, is currently listed as the favorite in the Preakness. The race is set to run on Saturday evening at 6:48 p.m. ET.