Historic Kentucky Derby winner Country House retired

Mia Zanzucchi
Peter King on NBC Sports

Country House, the Bill Mott-trained horse who was elevated to first place in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, has been retired after a case of laminitis, or inflammation of the hoof that can cause extreme pain and lameness. He hadn’t been raced since the Derby, which was on May 4.


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A 2016 Kentucky-bred colt by Lookin at Lucky out of Quake Lake (War Chant), he made seven starts and picked up two wins. After a 4th place finish in the 2019 Louisiana Derby (G2) and 3rd place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1), he entered the Churchill Downs starting gate a 65-1 longshot.

Frontrunner Maximum Security led from wire-to-wire but was disqualified several minutes after the race ended for impeding the forward motion of eventual Preakness Stakes winner War of Will. Country House’s jockey Flavien Prat requested the post-race steward’s inquiry that led to Maximum Security’s disqualification. Every horse was bumped up one placing.

Maximum Security was the second-ever disqualification in Kentucky Derby history after 1968 winner Dancer’s Image failed a drug test and was DQ’d long after the race ended. His disqualification was the first in Derby history to be called on the track. As one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby history, Country House paid $132.40 to win.

Country House’s camp quickly shut down a Triple Crown bid when they scratched him from the Preakness due to a cough and signs of a potential burgeoning illness.

In June, the colt went to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. for a lameness examination and was diagnosed with “proximal suspensory ligament desmitis on both front fetlocks.” He then experienced complications and was treated for a right leg infection. Later in July, Mott said he didn’t expect Country House to race again as a 3-year-old after the colt stopped showing the same eagerness to train that he did earlier.

Laminitis, also called founder, is a common illness in domesticated horses that can be caused by overfeeding. As defined by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, laminitis is the disruption of blood flow to certain parts of the hoof wall and bones, most commonly in the front feet. In the most severe cases, the bone and wall will separate.

The 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was euthanized in part because of laminitis brought on by complications after leg surgery.

Owned by Mrs J.V. Shields (also his breeder), E.J.M McFadden and LNJ Foxwoods, he earned just over $2.1 million across his two years of racing.

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