Tabbed as the 4-1 favorite in Saturday’s running of the Kentucky Derby, Omaha Beach has been scratched due to a breathing obstruction.
According to a report, Saturday’s Kentucky Derby experienced a major shakeup on Wednesday, with race favorite Omaha Beach pulled from the race due to a medical condition.
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports reported that Omaha Beach was examined after the horse was coughing Wednesday morning. The 3-year-old was diagnosed with an entrapped epiglottis, which is an obstruction in the horse’s airway that makes it difficult for it to breathe during exercise.
It is a crushing blow for trainer Richard Mandella. The 68-year-old is already a Hall of Famer, but was looking at Omaha Beach to fill a gap in his resume — a Kentucky Derby winner.
"“I’ve never had a 3-year-old in my barn looking this good. [But] it’s not anything we can fix to have him run on Saturday, so we’re going to have to scratch him.”"
The favorite now becomes Game Winner, which had been second on the board at 5-1, with Roadster and Improbable — all three horses trained by legendary Bob Baffert — at 6-1.
Omaha Beach not running is the most significant scratch at the Kentucky Derby in almost three decades, since AP Indy was scrubbed on race day with a foot injury.
For Omaha Beach’s owner, Rick Porter, this is another in a long line of extremes at Churchill Downs.
Hard Spun placed in 2007 and another Porter horse, filly Eight Belles, finished second in 2008 before suffering a fatal breakdown after the race.
Jockey Mike Smith is another hard-luck entry, having chosen to ride Omaha Beach over Roadster for the Kentucky Derby after being aboard Roadster through all of the horse’s races until now.
Smith won a Triple Crown last year with Justify and now may suffer the ignominy of going from that high to being without a ride at Churchill Downs this year.
Baffert told Forde that he did not plan to pull Florent Geroux, who was named to ride Roadster after Smith opted to mount Omaha Beach, from the Derby.