The 2019 GI Kentucky Derby winner Country House (Lookin At Lucky–Quake Lake, by War Chant) has been retired following a bout with laminitis, according to a statement put out by the Country House ownership group Friday evening. The 4-year-old, campaigned by Mrs. Joseph Shields Jr., E.J.M. McFadden Jr. and LNJ Foxwoods, was promoted to first in the Derby after the disqualification of champion Maximum Security (New Year’s Day), retires with two wins in seven starts and earnings of $2,120,175. Stud plans are forthcoming.
“On June 27, Country House was sent to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for a routine lameness examination, to be followed up by turn out,” read the Blackwood statement. “Country House was examined by Dr. Larry Bramlage and was diagnosed with proximal suspensory ligament desmitis on both front fetlocks. Country House experienced complications and was re-admitted to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital on July 1, where he was treated for a right front lower leg infection.
“Over the course of the next two weeks, the team at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital got the infection under control, but as a result of his non-weight bearing right front foot, he developed laminitis in his left front foot. He was released on July 15 and returned to Blackwood for stall rest. Over the coming months, Dr. Scott Morrison was able to stabilize the foot and make Country House more comfortable. He is currently on turn out and we anticipate that he will make a full recovery, but because of the laminitis and the subsequent steps taken to save his life, he will never race again.
Over the past seven months, our primary focus has solely been on Country House and his health. With the Derby right around the corner and his health much improved, we felt it was an appropriate time to make this announcement. We appreciate everyone’s patience during this difficult time.”
His trainer Bill Mott said that his Derby effort came at a time when he was just coming into himself and that his future had been bright.
“I think he was an up-and-coming horse,” said Mott. “He’s a big, strong, rugged horse that seemed to be just learning what the game was all about by the time he got to the Derby. He was a horse that we were really looking forward to his progression as an older horse. He would have been a really good horse for these older handicap races, whether it be the Saudi Cup or the Dubai World Cup or potentially a Breeders’ Cup type. He obviously got the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles, so that put him in a group that eliminates a lot of horses. One of the reasons that we felt he would be such a nice horse in the future was his size and strength. He had such great scope and balance to him, and he was the type of horse that you’d be looking for in a handicap horse.”
Tabbed a ‘TDN Rising Star’ when breaking his maiden third out at Gulfstream in January of 2019, Country House was second to future GI Preakness S. contender War of Will (War Front) in the GII Risen Star S. that February. Rallying strongly to be fourth in the GII Louisiana Derby a month later, the chestnut earned his way into the Derby starting gate with a third in the GI Arkansas Derby.