Gary West is the co-owner of Maximum Security and Game Winner with his wife, Mary. Maximum Security won the Derby by a significant margin on May 4, 2019, before being disqualified after an objection was raised by Country House.
West is a philanthropist billionaire who made his fortune in the telecommunications industry. He and his wife now run the Gary and Mary West Foundation and West Health; both of these initiatives focus on improving the wellbeing and care of seniors, especially those living in poverty.
To The San Diego Union Tribune, West explained that his passion for horse racing comes second to his passion for helping the elderly. He said, “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.”
After the race, he said, “We’ll get right back to what’s important in life. The Kentucky Derby is a big deal, but helping people is even more important.”
Here’s what you need to know:
In 2006, the Wests Sold Stake in Their Company, West Corporation, for $1.45 Billion
The Wests became billionaires in 2006, when they sold their stake in the company Gary founded, West Corporation. Per The San Diego Union Tribune, the West Corporation was “an innovation-based call center company.”
Since then, the primary focus for the couple has been philanthropy, specifically within their aid for seniors. One of their greatest endeavors is the Gary and Mary West Foundation, nonprofit funded entirely by the Wests which “support initiatives that lower the cost of healthcare to enable seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence,” per the site.
The Gary and Mary West Foundation has awarded over $211 million to 518 grants. The foundation is a branch of West Health, also run by the Wests, which includes an institute, a policy center, and an applied medical research organization.
As for whether West was concerned about the upcoming success of his two horses at the derby, he maintained that his outlook on horse racing is to plan for the worst. He said to The San Diego Union Tribune,
“As sort of defense mechanism, I haven’t thought about it being days before the Kentucky Derby with two horses in it. I probably don’t believe it yet. When they load in the starting gate, that’s when it probably will hit me. I’m just hard-wired to disappointment. There are 20 horses in the race, so there’s going to be 19 losers. There’s one happy group and a lot of unhappy people. That’s the nature of the sport.”