Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach was scratched Wednesday from Saturday’s Run for the Roses due to a breathing problem that trainer Richard Mandella termed an “entrapped epiglottis.”
The epiglottis is triangular-shaped cartilage at the base of the airway just in front of the arytenoids cartilages that cover the airway during swallowing, according to a press release from Churchill Downs.
The abnormality can hinder the performances of horses when it occurs.
Mandella felt something was up with Omaha Beach when he was around him on Wednesday morning.
“After training this morning we noticed him cough a few times,” Mandella said in the press release. “It caused us to scope him and we found an entrapped epiglottis. We can’t fix it this week so we’ll have to have a procedure done in a few days and probably be out of training for three weeks. We’ll have to figure out a whole new game plan.”
Jockey Mike Smith was set to ride Omaha Beach but was more concerned with the health of the horse.
Smith said Mandella was crushed that the favorite had to be scratched.
“(Mandella) felt so bad. You could hear it in his voice,” Smith told the (Louisville) Courier Journal. “He’s just devastated over it, and you can see why. A horse like this who was training as well as he was training, all systems were go and now you have to pull the plug. You can only imagine what it felt like for him. … But it’s part of the game if you’re in it long enough.
“It just wasn’t meant to be. It’s certainly not the end of the world. Yeah, we’re going to miss the Derby, but, hey, that’s part of the game.”
Omaha Beach was coming off three wins in a row, including a victory in the Arkansas Derby.
With Omaha Beach out, the new Kentucky Derby favorite is Game Winner at 9/2, trained by Bob Baffert, who saddled 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify and 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
Next among the favorites are two more horses trained by Baffert, Roadster and Improbable, both at 5-1.
Tacitus and Maximum Security each moved to 8-1.
Updated Kentucky Derby odds
(As of early Wednesday evening, according to the Courier Journal)
Game Winner, 9/2
Maximum Security, 8-1
Code of Honor, 12-1
Win Win Win, 12-1
By My Standards, 15-1
War of Will, 15-1
Country House, 30-1
Cutting Humor, 30-1
Long Range Toddy, 30-1
Plus Que Parfait, 30-1
Gray Magician, 50-1
Master Fencer, 50-1
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)