LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Omaha Beach, the morning-line favorite for the 145th Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs, will be scratched owing to an entrapped epiglottis, trainer Richard Mandella said Wednesday.
“He was coughing, which made us suspicious, and we scoped him,” Mandella said.
“It’s not anything we can fix to have him run on Saturday, so we’re going to have to scratch him.”
Mandella said the issue is “fixable,” but the timing is terrible.
“He’ll miss two to three weeks of training,” Mandella said. “Alysheba had it a month before he won the Kentucky Derby. But we can’t fix it and run this weekend.”
Mandella said the problem is that Omaha Beach has “swollen tissue under the epiglottis.”
“It’s entrapped, so it can’t do its job,” Mandella said.
Mandella said this was not comparable to needing tieback surgery, something Kentucky Derby entrant Roadster underwent last year.
Omaha Beach won the Arkansas Derby and a division of the Rebel Stakes in his last two starts and was favored for the Derby on the lines of both Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form’s national handicapper, and Mike Battaglia of Churchill Downs.
His defection will allow Florida Derby runner-up Bodexpress to draw in from the also-eligible list.
Mike Smith, who rode Omaha Beach in his last two starts, had chosen Omaha Beach for the Derby over Roadster, whom he rode to victory in the Santa Anita Derby. Florent Geroux is riding Roadster.
The scratch of Omaha Beach was another dose of brutal Derby luck for owner Rick Porter, who finished second twice with Hard Spun and the filly Eight Belles, who suffered a catastrophic injury when galloping out after her race.
Porter on Wednesday said Omaha Beach had a little inflammation in his throat a week and a half ago, was given antibiotics, and it was 95 percent cleared up.
He said that on Tuesday, before Mandella entered, Omaha Beach was scoped and was found to be entrapped, but he was entered anyway in the hope the issue could be alleviated.
Porter said he suggested bringing in Dr. Rolf Embertson from the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. Embertson is the surgeon who operated on Roadster.
“He came down and tried to get it loose, and every time they tried to get it loose, it flipped back the way it was,” Porter said.
Porter said Omaha Beach would be sent to Rood and Riddle and undergo throat surgery Monday or Tuesday.
“I can tell you it breaks my heart,” Porter, 78, said. “It breaks all my kids’ hearts. I was looking forward to it so much. Now, I’m looking to the future.”
– additional reporting by David Grening
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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