There will be no Triple Crown attempt this year: Kentucky Derby winner, Country House, will not be in Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes after coming down with a respiratory infection Tuesday morning.
The colt’s trainer, Bill Mott, said Country House was eating well and did not have a fever, but his blood work showed imbalances and he started on antibiotics.
Mott did not rule out Country House running in the Belmont Stakes. In fact, he said when the colt crossed the finish line in second place at the Derby his plan was to take him back to his base at Belmont and train up to the third leg of the Triple Crown.
After Maximum Security, who crossed the line ahead of him, was disqualified for interference while turning for home, those plans changed. Mott felt an obligation to take a shot at the Preakness, the Triple Crown’s second leg.
“We’ll see how he does — hopefully this is just a virus,” said Mott by phone from Louisville where he and Country House remain. “The Belmont was my plan all along. When he was put up I wanted to go out of respect for the Triple Crown, I thought the Kentucky Derby winner should be there. This made the decision easy for us.”
The owner of Maximum Security, Gary West, said on Monday his colt was not going to run in the Preakness either. The colt crossed the finish line a length and three quarters ahead of Country House, but was placed 17th after racing officials ruled he had compromised the chances of two other houses.
The decision is a blow to horse racing’s attempt to broaden its appeal to casual sports fans. Crowds and attention for the Preakness and Belmont tend to be heavily dependent on whether a Triple Crown is on the line.
Country House was an unlikely Derby winner, having won only one maiden race and going off at odds of 65-1. In contrast, Maximum Security was 4-for-4 going into the race and was the betting favorite.
The last Kentucky Derby winner to miss the Preakness was Grindstone, who was retired shortly after winning the 1996 Derby because of a knee injury.
Horses still planning to run in the Preakness include Improbable, fourth in the Derby, and War of Will, the seventh-place finisher.
The last Kentucky Derby winner to miss the Preakness was Grindstone, who was retired the week after winning the 1996 Derby because of a knee injury.