Kentucky Derby winner Country House out of the Preakness

A star-crossed 2019 Triple Crown campaign took another massive blow Tuesday with the news that Kentucky Derby winner-by-disqualification Country House will not run in the Preakness May 18.

The Daily Racing Form quoted Country House trainer Bill Mott as saying the colt “developed a little bit of a cough this morning. "His appetite is good. He doesn't have a fever. But he's coughing. We drew blood. 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.”

Country House’s defection comes a day after the owner of disqualified Derby winner Maximum Security said that horse also would skip the Preakness. Gary West said on the “Today Show” that he doesn’t believe in running a horse twice in two weeks, and with the chance at a Triple Crown gone there was no reason to enter Maximum Security.

That deprived fans of a Country House-Maximum Security rematch, with the latter having a shot at redemption and to prove he is the best 3-year-old in the nation after being controversially DQ’d in the Derby. But now the Derby winner is out as well, which will all but destroy mainstream interest in the rest of the Triple Crown campaign.

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145th running of the Kentucky Derby
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145th running of the Kentucky Derby
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Riders cross the finish line at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Maximum Security ridden by jockey Luis Saez trots after the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Jockey Luis Saez of Maximum Security (7) reacts after the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Riders Bodexpress (21) ridden by Chris Landeros, Long Range Toddy (18) ridden by Jon Court and Maximum Security (7) ridden by Luis Saez battle for the lead early during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Riders Bodexpress (21) ridden by Chris Landeros, Long Range Toddy (18) ridden by Jon Court and Maximum Security (7) ridden by Luis Saez battle for an early lead during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Bodexpress ridden by Chris Landeros trots during the poll parade at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Long Range Toddy ridden by Jon Court trots during the poll parade at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Spinoff ridden by Manny Franco trots during the poll parade at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: Cutting Humor ridden by Mike Smith trots during the poll parade at the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4th, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Maximum Security is walked off the track after being disqualified for the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Flavien Prat rides Country House to the finish line during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Country House was declared the winner after Maximum Security was disqualified following a review by race stewards. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
A woman arrives at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, before the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Jockey Flavien Prat reacts learning he won the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race when Maximum Security was disqualified at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Greg Payan)
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If you thought the DQ of Maximum Security merited skepticism and scrutiny, prepare for more with this decision by Mott.

Is Country House really getting sick, or is this simply a cover for what the trainer wanted to do in the first place? Mott made it clear Sunday morning that he really didn’t want to run Country House in the Preakness, but felt pressure to do so for the Triple Crown quest and the overall good of the sport.

“You get shamed into it,” Mott said. “If you don’t, it’s ‘You got no balls,’ and ‘What’s wrong with the horse?’ Having the Derby winner, you’re pretty much forced to go on to the Preakness.”

Country House had raced extensively for a modern 3-year-old thoroughbred to this point. He has raced monthly — a maiden race in January, the Risen Star Stakes in February, the Louisiana Derby in March, the Arkansas Derby in April and then the Kentucky Derby.

After that schedule, the normal Mott plan would be to run Country House in the Belmont in June. Perhaps the colt’s cough will have cleared up by then.

The Kentucky Derby winner has not missed the Preakness since Grindstone in 1996, who suffered a slight knee injury in winning the Derby that year.

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