AP Photo/John Minchillo
- Kentucky Derby winner Country House will not race in the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.
- It’s the first time in more than 20 years that the Derby winner will not enter the second race of the Triple Crown.
- Country House’s absence from the race creates some odd repercussions, and potentially sets up a rematch with Maximum Security at the Belmont Stakes.
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For the first time in more than 20 years, the winner of the Kentucky Derby will not be racing in the Preakness Stakes.
On Tuesday it was announced that Country House, who won the 2019 Kentucky Derby after the controversial disqualification of Maximum Security, would not be entered in the field at Pimlico on May 18.
"He developed a little bit of a cough this morning," trainer Bill 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 decision comes with major implications for the final two races of the Triple Crown.
First and foremost, we now know there will be no Triple Crown winner this year to follow up on Justify’s impressive run in 2018. While the excitement of a potential Triple Crown winner usually remains through at least the first two races of spring, this year fans will know heading into the Preakness that the historic feat is not up for grabs this year.
This could wind up leaving the Preakness in a rough spot in terms of television viewership. Ratings for the Belmont Stakes have fluctuated wildly over the years depending on whether or not a Triple Crown bid was still alive heading into the race. With Country House not even competing at the Preakness this year, there’s a chance the broadcast could see a similar drop in ratings.
On the other hand, the Belmont Stakes could prove an extremely compelling race. While there won’t be a Triple Crown history on the line, it could prove Maximum Security the strongest three-year-old of this group.
By the time the Belmont Stakes are run, it’s possible that Country House is healthy enough to enter the field again, setting up a potential rematch that could help prove the arguments of those still debating Maximum Security’s Derby disqualification for one side or the other.
It would be quite a story to follow, but it depends on Country House coming back for the final race of the Triple Crown, and with the horse already holding the title of Kentucky Derby winner and likely to be a relative long shot again at the Belmont Stakes, there’s a chance that the team behind Country House would rather preserve his health and his solid record than risk a disappointing or dangerous run in New York.
We won’t know how the final two races of the Triple Crown will play out until they are finally run, but as things stand, Country House’s absence from the Preakness created shockwaves beyond the lack of a Triple Crown contender this year.
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