Heavy Is The Head…

COUNTRY HOUSE, the controversial Winner of the Kentucky Derby, will not run in the Preakness Stakes on May 18th in Baltimore because he has shown signs of illness after Saturday’s Run for the Roses, becoming the first KD winner to skip the second leg of the Triple Crown since GRINDSTONE in 1996.

Trainer Bill Mott on Tuesday afternoon claimed the colt might be getting sick;  “He developed a little bit of a cough this morning.  His appetite is good.  He doesn’t have a fever.  But he’s coughing.  He’s acting like he’s going to get sick.  He’s off the training list, and if he’s off the training list he’s off the Preakness list.”

It is rare for the KD Winner to skip the PreaknessGRINDSTONE was retired just five days after his 1996 Kentucky Derby Victory, when knee chips were discovered in his leg. He became the first KD Winner since 1926 (BUBBLING OVER) to be retired immediately following the Victory.

In 1985, Kentucky Derby Champion SPEND A BUCK skipped the Preakness to compete for a $2 million bonus (which he Won) at the newly reopened (shuttered in 2001) Garden State Park in New Jersey.

Three years earlier, the handlers of GATO DEL SOL decided that the two-week span between the KD and Preakness Stakes was too short for the horse to overcome, so the long-shot (22-1) Winner at Churchill Downs was held out until the Belmont Stakes. He finished second there, 14 lengths behind CONQUISTADOR CIELO.

As of this writing, only three horses who ran in this years KD have committed to running in the Preakness: IMPROBABLE (4th), WAR OF WILL (7th) and BODEXPRESS (13th).  Monday the owner of MAXIMUM SECURITY, Gary West, said his horse would not be heading to Pimlico Race Course.  Second-place finisher in The Derby CODE OF HONOR will also skip the Preakness.


COUNTRY HOUSE not competing in the second leg of the Triple Crown series is certainly disappointing for his connections, but more so for the world of horse racing.  The absence of a Triple Crown possibility has historically depressed the television ratings and wagering on the next race in the series. 

The Daily Racing Blog believes that COUNTRY HOUSE probably would have finished out of the money had he chose to run.  The Preakness is the shortest distance of the TC races, so it’s all about the break, and a fast pace, closers need not apply.  If COUNTRY HOUSE couldn’t (legitimately) catch a speed horse in a Mile & 1/4 contest he wasn’t likely to run one/any down at a Mile & 3/16. 

Stay tuned for updates, entrants, and other news regarding the Preakness Stakes.

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