Country House, the 65-1 longshot who was handed a Kentucky Derby victory by disqualification, will not run in the May 18 Preakness Stakes because of a developing illness, trainer Bill Mott said Tuesday.
"He developed a little bit of a cough this morning," Mott told the Daily Racing Form. "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."
The last Derby winner to skip the Preakness was Grindstone, who missed the second jewel of the Triple Crown in 1996 because of a bone chip in his right knee.
Mott's announcement means there will be no Triple Crown winner in 2019 after Justify pulled off the feat last year and American Pharoah did it in 2015.
Maximum Security, the horse who crossed the finish line first in Saturday's Derby but was disqualified by stewards for swerving into the paths of at least two other horses, will also skip the Preakness. Owner Gary West's appeal of the disqualification was denied by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission on Monday, but West has said he'll continue his fight with a lawsuit.
The absence of both horses will leave the Preakness without an obvious lead story line. War of Will, the Derby contender most directly affected by Maximum Security's controversial swerve, is expected to be in the field. And trainer Bob Baffert will seek his eighth Preakness victory with Improbable, who went off as the Derby favorite.
But the news of Country House's illness is a blow to a field that will be dominated by horses that did not run in the Derby.
The morning after the Derby, Mott said he felt obligated to point Country House toward the Preakness but seemed reluctant about the two-week turnaround. The Hall of Fame trainer said he was thrilled when he initially thought Country House finished second and would face no pressure to enter the Preakness.
"Having the Derby winner, you're pretty much forced to go into the Preakness," he said. "It's like if you don't, you've got no (guts), and what's wrong with the horse?"