Country House Out of Preakness
Bill Mott’s Country House continues to make history, albeit dubious ways. First, the horse became the first runner ever in the 145-year history of the Kentucky Derby to not cross the wire first but still win, thanks to the disqualification of Maximum Security. Tuesday, it was learned that Country House will become the first Derby winner in 23 years (Grindstone in 1996) not to run in the Preakness.
“He’s off the training list, and if he’s off the training list, he’s off the Preakness list,” Mott told the Daily Racing Form of the colt—who, according to his trainer, “Developed a cough and is acting like he’s going to get sick.”
It was also revealed Tuesday by veteran trainer Shug McGaughey that Code of Honor, the Derby runner-up, will skip the Preakness due to illness.
Maximum Security’s Plans
Trainer Jason Servis is one to shy away from the spotlight, and the Kentucky Derby aftermath is no different as the veteran conditioner has not addressed the media since Saturday’s disqualification. With his horse now safe and sound in his Monmouth Park barn, Servis appears to be targeting the Haskell Invitational as a comeback race. Dennis Drazin, CEO of Monmouth Park operator Darby Development and ironically an active horse owner who keeps his string with Servis, confirmed as much early Tuesday.
“He’s pointing toward that race (the Haskell),” Drazin told horseracingnation.com, “and of course the horse has to be a hundred percent and doing well. I believe that, all things being equal, Maximum Security will be in the Haskell gate.”
This year, Monmouth will stage the Haskell on Saturday, July 20, a week earlier than usual. The Haskell’s date change accommodates NBC’s broadcast schedule but also gives a week more of separation before Saratoga’s Travers (G1) the next month should contenders target both.
At 1 1/8 miles, the Haskell provides a “Win and You’re In” spot to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Musical Jockeys for Blaine Wright
After entrusting the star of his stable to Northern California rider Juan Hernandez, trainer Blaine Wright rolled the dice in the Lexington Stakes, removing Hernandez and giving the ride to veteran Javier Castellano. With a bid to the Kentucky Derby on the line, Anothertwistafate finished second, just missing the cut for the run for the roses.
Instead of going back to Hernandez, Wright and owner Peter Redekop decided to give the mount to Eclipse Award-winning jockey Jose Ortiz. Ortiz was aboard Tacitus in the Kentucky Derby. After originally opting to stay in Kentucky and await a Derby berth, Wright decided to ship back to his Northern California base and do all of his Preakness work on home ground.
Laughing Fox Figures to be a New Shooter
While a final decision won’t come for at least a few days, if all goes well Alex and JoAnn Lieblong’s Laughing Fox is likely headed to the 144th Preakness Stakes run May 18 at Pimlico Race Course.
Laughing Fox, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, earned an automatic berth into the middle jewel of the Triple Crown by virtue of his neck victory over Night Ops in the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Invitational on Saturday at Oaklawn Park. Alex Lieblong said Laughing Fox came out of his first career stakes victory in good order and the Preakness will be up to the chestnut son of 2012 Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags.
“So far, so good; I’ll put it that way,” Lieblong told horseracingnation.com. “First of all, we’re very, very honored that we’ve got the choice. I think it’s a neat thing that Oaklawn and Pimlico worked out. We’re kind of just going to let the horse tell us. If at all possible, we’ll probably do it, but we’re going to make sure that the horse wants to do it, so to speak.”