When the 2019 Preakness Stakes gets underway on Saturday, none of the top four finishers from the Kentucky Derby, including Country House, will be running.
Initial Derby winner Maximum Security, who was eventually disqualified, will be held out at the Preakness Stakes because of abrasions sustained during his infamous run at Churchill Downs. Code of Honor and Tacitus, the second- and third-place finishers, are also not listed as part of the Preakness field.
But why, exactly, is Country House not running at Pimlico Race Course? Why is he set to become the first Kentucky Derby winner to skip the Preakness Stakes in more than two decades?
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The answer lies.
Trainer Bill Mott told Daily Racing Forum after the Derby that Country House "developed a little bit of a cough" while at Churchill Downs. He said his champion Thoroughbred was "not seriously sick" at the time but was "coughing" and required blood testing. As a result, the horse was removed from the Preakness training list. Acknowledging that horses tend to need several weeks at a time to recover from similar illnesses, Mott confirmed with more than a week to spare that Country House would not be participating in the Preakness Stakes.
So, severely sick or not, Country House will not be at the Preakness Stakes because of a cough. His absence comes not long after one-time Derby betting favorite Omaha Beach wasbecause of a breathing problem.
In skipping the Preakness, Country House will become the first Kentucky Derby winner to do so in 23 years, guaranteeing that there will be no Triple Crown winner this year. The last horse to win the Derby and then miss the Preakness was Grindstone, who won in Kentucky in 1996 but was forced into an early retirement days later following the discovery of bone chips in his knees.
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