The complexion of the 2019 Preakness Stakes changed dramatically on Tuesday when Kentucky Derby winner Country House pulled out of the race due to early signs of an illness, according to Jay Privman of the Daily Racing Form. The defection leaves Improbable, who was sent off as the 4-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby, as the early Preakness Stakes favorite at 6/4, at international bookmaker Sky Bet.
Country House trainer Bill Mott, whose win in the Derby was the first of his Hall of Fame career, told Privman that he believes the horse is showing symptoms of an illness.
"He developed a little bit of a cough this morning," trainer Bill Mott told Privman. "[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.
"It's probably a little viral thing," Mott said. "Hopefully it doesn't develop into anything serious. Usually when something like this happens a horse misses a couple weeks of training. He's not seriously sick right now. But he's showing indications that something is going on."
This would be the first time since 1996 that the winner of the Kentucky Derby has not run in the Preakness Stakes. That year Grindstone was retired with a knee injury after winning the Run for the Roses.
A 65-1 long shot entering the Kentucky Derby, Country House became the second-longest priced winner of the race after Maximum Security, who crossed the finish line first, was disqualified for interfering with multiple runners. It was the first time in the 145-year history of the Derby that the winner of the race was disqualified for an infraction during the race.
With Country House and Derby runner-up Code of Honor pulling out of the Preakness on Tuesday and the connections of Maximum Security deciding on Monday to bypass the race, the second leg of the Triple Crown, set for May 18 at Pimlico Race Course, has a lack of star power. None of the winners of the major Derby prep races is among the early list of 11 potential runners.
That list includes Improbable, fourth in the Derby; War of Will, seventh in the Derby; Bodexpress, 13th in the Derby; Alwaysmining, winner of six straight races, including the Federico Tesio; Anothertwistafate, winner of the El Camino Real Derby; late runner Bourbon War, who was fourth in the Florida Derby; Laughing Fox, winner of the Oaklawn Invitational Stakes; Mr. Money, impressive winner of the Pat Day Mile on Saturday at Churchill Downs; Owendale, winner of the Lexington Stakes; Signalman, winner of last year's Kentucky Jockey Club; and Sueno, third in the Louisiana Derby and Lexington Stakes.
So who wins the Preakness? And which long shots are a must-back? Join SportsLine right now to get Jody Demling's 2019 Preakness picks, and see every horse's exact finish position, all from the expert who has nailed nine of the last 14 Preakness winners!