Country House and Maximum Security created a lot of excitement in the Kentucky Derby, but neither horse will be running in the Preakness Stakes. Each horse will miss the race for different reasons. Country House’s trainer Bill Mott announced the horse would not run the Preakness after “developing a little bit of a cough.”
“His appetite is good,” Mott explained to Yahoo Sports. “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.”
This means there is no chance of back-to-back Triple Crown winners and some have expressed skepticism over Mott withdrawing the horse. Mott’s record at the Preakness is less than stellar, and Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde noted there is “reasonable cause to doubt.”
The Hall of Fame trainer has never liked the Preakness, only running in it twice, the last time in 2008. He’s based in New York, and has preferred to take his Derby runners (and other promising 3-year-olds) to the Belmont after bypassing Baltimore. He isn’t a two-races-in-two-weeks kind of guy.
The day after the Derby, Mott made it very clear that going to the Preakness didn’t thrill him. If Country House were going to run, it would be for the good of the sport and out of deference to the Triple Crown quest, a storyline that obviously relies on the Derby winner continuing on to Baltimore.
“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.”The only defensible way out is to have a health excuse. Voila, here comes the cough — and a very quick Preakness hook. As one trainer pointed out to me Tuesday, this is very early to scratch a horse from a race 11 days away due to a cough. Mott could have let the situation play out for several more days before making a decision.
Maximum Security Not Running the Preakness Is Tied to Kentucky Derby Protest
Maximum Security’s reason for withdrawing from the Preakness is tied to owner Gary West’s displeasure of the Kentucky Derby disqualification. With no Triple Crown on the line and their continued frustration with the disqualification, the team opted not to compete at Pimlico.
“Really no need, not having an opportunity to run for the Triple Crown, to run a horse back in two weeks,” West noted to USA Today.
The more West talks, the more it seems like the group wants no part of racing until the Kentucky Derby issue is resolved. West filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
“If there’s going to be an appeal it will almost certainly be before the Preakness, but appeals historically take some time to sort out,” West said, per ESPN. “Win, lose or draw, we’re not going to know the outcome of that until probably months, if not years, down the road.”
It will be worth watching whether Country House will run at the Belmont, or if we have seen the last of him at the Triple Crown races.