(Reuters) - The owner of Maximum Security, the horse that finished first in the 145th Kentucky Derby on Saturday but was disqualified, said he would file an appeal with the state racing commission in an interview on NBC's "Today" show on Monday.
Gary West, whose horse became the first in the history of the famous race to be disqualified for an on-track infraction, said he was "stunned, shocked and in total disbelief" when second-place finisher Country House was declared the winner at Churchill Downs.
"This is something that is big enough that the entire racing world is looking at this and I think they deserve an opportunity to really know what was going on," West said of his decision to file an appeal.
After a 20-minute video review, officials found that Maximum Security, who was 4-1 favorite to win the 1-1/4 mile race, was guilty of a contact foul when he appeared to take a wide turn and impede other horses in the home stretch. The disqualification ruling handed the win to Country House, which had been a 65-1 long shot.
"It was literally like the old TV show, 'The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat', all within a 22 minute period of time," said West.
"Winning it was the most euphoric thing I have probably ever had in our lives and disappointment when they took the horse down for the first time in history, we were stunned, shocked and in total disbelief. It had never been done before."
The decision even caught the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump, who said on Twitter the disqualification of Maximum Security could only happen in "these days of political correctness".
West said he did see Maximum Security, who led the race from nearly start to finish, move over several lanes but felt such contact was inevitable given the number of horses in the Derby.
The bay colt's owner also criticized Churchill Downs for allowing 20 horses in the race.
"Churchill Downs, because they're a greedy organization, has (20 horses) rather than 14 like you have in the Kentucky Oaks, the Breeders' Cup, every other race in America," said West.
"Just because they can make more money, they're willing to risk horses' lives and peoples' lives to do that. I'm not a fan of that. I think they ought to have 14 like every other race.," said West.
"Yes I saw the horse move out, but every Kentucky Derby, you could sit down two or three or four horses if you wanted to, because it's like a rodeo out there."
Churchill Downs did not immediately respond when asked to comment.
West also said there would be no rematch with Country Horse in the second leg of U.S. thoroughbred horse racing's Triple Crown, the May 18 Preakness Stakes at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course.
"We are not going to run The Preakness," said West. "There's no Triple Crown on the line for us, and no reason to run a horse back in two weeks when you don't have to."
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Additional reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Bill Trott snf Ed Osmond)