Country House Odds to Win the 2019 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
Some people like to bet the 'other' horse. When a trainer has two horses in a race, there is usually one who is getting most of the attention. Some people believe that the other horse is the one to bet on - he gets the attention of a strong trainer but is neglected by bettors and can offer real value. If you buy into that, then Country House could be your horse. He is the 'other' Bill Mott horse this year and will be decidedly overlooked in favor of stablemate Tacitus . Can this horse deliver profits for contrary bettors?
Last race: The Arkansas Derby was a deep race. With Omaha Beach and Improbable as very strong favorites who absolutely lived up to their expectations, it felt like it was a race for third place. And it was. Country House who came out on top in that competitive battle. Going off at 8/1, Country House was way off the pace early as he always is. He mounted a bid around the final turn and got up to third - a place he was able to hold handily. He did not have a sustained bid in the stretch, though, which is a bit of a concern. He wasn't going to catch the leaders, so maybe he wasn't asked for his biggest effort. But while it was a solid effort, it was a long way from perfect.
Prior experience: The horse made his debut in August at Belmont, and he was tried on turf initially. He was at the back of the pack early, but he never fired and wound up ninth. It took two months and a shift to dirt before we saw him again. That was a dramatically better effort. He wound up second but was charging hard at the end. What he needed, as it turned out, was just to turn three. He waited until the middle of January at Gulfstream for his third start. He started slow and looked like he might be in trouble, but he absolutely exploded as he made his move and won impressively by almost four lengths. It was eye-opening and earned him a step up to stakes company. Unfortunately, that was his last win. He was second in the Risen Star, well behind winner War of Will, who he will face again here in the Derby. Then he was fourth in the Louisiana Derby behind Derby entrants By My Standards and Spinoff. And that led him to the Arkansas Derby. All in all, it has been a career with some promise but far less meat than sizzle so far.
Trainer: Bill Mott is one of the great trainers of our time, but he has not won a Derby or a Preakness and won the Belmont only once in 2010 with Drosselmeyer. The reason for his relative lack of Triple Crown success is simple, though - he hasn't tried that often. Mott focuses more on developing top-level race mares, or older horses - none better than the legendary Cigar. He is dipping his toe into the realm of young three-year-olds more the last couple of years, though, and he will have success. Don't doubt his ability to win in Kentucky - he set a record for wins in a meet in 1984 at Churchill Downs that stood until just two years ago. Mott has this horse and Tacitus in the field this year. Last year he had Hofburg, who was a disappointing seventh in the Derby, but bounced back for a nice third in the Belmont.
Jockey: You can tell a fair bit about the perception of a horse in the Derby by how he is treated by riders in the weeks before the race. Joel Rosario was aboard for the Arkansas Derby, but he was also on Game Winner and Gray Magician in their final preps. Of those three, Game Winner was the incredibly easy choice for the Derby. Totally a brainless decision. Luis Saez rode Country House for the three races before that, but he is on Maximum Security in the Derby. Junior Alvarado and Rajiv Maragh also each rode this horse once, but they opted to ride Tax and Haikal, respectively. So, we don't know who will be riding Country House yet, but we know it won't be one of the four riders who has been on him already. That's not good.
Breeding: Country House is a son of Lookin at Lucky, the Bob Baffert-trained horse who was a champion at both two and three and who finished sixth in the 2010 Derby as the favorite but bounced back to win the Preakness. As a sire, Lookin at Lucky has had success as well. His son Accelerate won the Breeders' Cup Classic, and Lookin at Lee was runner-up in the 2017 Derby. He is a son of Smart Strike, who also sired the great Curlin. Country House's damsire is War Chant, a grandson of Northern Dancer who won the Breeders' Cup Mile in 2000. War Chant's most relevant offspring in a competent but not thrilling stud career is Midnight Interlude, who won the 2011 Santa Anita Derby for Bob Baffert, but finished 16th in the Derby.
Odds: Country House was not listed in the final Kentucky Derby futures pool, so he was part of the 19/1 mutuel field. You can bet him in futures action at BetOnline, though, where he is at +5000.
Can Country House Win the 2019 Kentucky Derby?: Probably not. In fact, almost certainly not. He runs a style that can be effective to hit the board in the Derby, but a lot of horses will be looking for that same style of race, and several of them are frankly better than this horse. I am not a believer.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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