Kentucky Derby Winner Country House to Miss Preakness with Illness

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Country House, winner of the 2019 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, will miss the Preakness Stakes due to a minor illness, according to trainer Bill Mott. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott confirmed reports May 7 that Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve winner Country House will miss the May 19 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course because he has developed a cough and seems to be harboring a virus.

“He’s off the training list and will miss the Preakness,” Mott said about the son of Lookin At Lucky, who is still stabled at Churchill Downs. “He was coughing this morning so we had blood work done and got right on it. It does look like he’s harboring a virus, though he is eating and there is no fever. But that is an hour-by-hour thing.”

Based on the blood work results, Mott said he has started the colt on antibiotics.

Country House, who finished second and was placed first in the Kentucky Derby following a disqualification, had been expected as of Monday to compete in the Preakness but even then Mott noted that coming back in two weeks “would be an ambitious schedule, to say the least.”

“Sometimes horses look great coming out of a race, and maybe a week, 10 days later, then they’ll show you maybe they’re a little bit tired. I’m not saying that’s going to happen. I don’t know,” Mott said Monday.

Country House is the first Derby winner to miss the Preakness since 1996, when Grindstone was found to have a knee injury and was retired.

Trainer Shug McGaughey told the Pimlico racing office Tuesday that Derby runner-up Code of Honor will pass on the Preakness as well and will make his next start in the July 6 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park.

Improbable, placed fourth in the Derby, will run in the Preakness, while War of Will (seventh in the Derby) and Bodexpress (13th) are also expected to join the field. Preakness probables released by the Pimlico racing office that did not participate in the Kentucky Derby include Signalman, Owendale, Alwaysmining, Anothertwistafate, Bourbon War, Mr. Money, and Laughing Fox.

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