GI Kentucky Derby winner Country House (Lookin At Lucky) will get at least two months off from training and as a result is likely to miss the rest of his 3-year-old season, trainer Bill Mott said Saturday night. The news came in an interview with Jerry Bailey on NBC Sports’ live telecast of the GII Stephen Foster H. card at Churchill Downs and confirmed what Mott told reporters earlier in the evening.
There to saddle GII Fleur de Lis H. victress Elate (Medaglia d’Oro) as well as receive his engraved Kentucky Derby trophy, Mott said that Country House, who missed the GI Preakness S. and GI Belmont S. with an infection, had not responded well to his return to full training.
“He just wasn’t as eager to get into his training as he had been,” Mott said early in the evening in a clip posted on Twitter by Paulick Report. “We just felt like he wasn’t moving as well as he should be. We had him checked out again, and I think the determination is that we probably need to give him more time. Right now, we’d have trouble making the Travers or the Breeders’ Cup, and I don’t believe we’d be able to get him back to the races in as good a shape right now as what we would have to have him to run at that very top level. To give him a fair chance and bring him back as a 4-year-old, we’re going to give him a little extra time.”
Named a ‘TDN Rising Star’ after a scintillating last-to-first maiden win Jan. 17 at Gulfstream, Country House was runner-up to eventual Preakness winner War of Will (War Front) in the GII Risen Star S., fourth in the GII Louisiana Derby and third in the GI Arkansas Derby. Promoted to first at 65-1 in a controversial decision in the Derby, the chestnut was quickly ruled out of Preakness consideration with a fever. He had returned to the track in recent weeks and shipped to Saratoga to point towards the summer 3-year-old stakes before this latest development.