Omaha Beach reportedly was coughing Wednesday morning, and an examination revealed an entrapped epiglottis - a breathing obstruction that compromises a horse's ability to breathe during exercise.
Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach will not compete in Saturday's race, Churchill Downs announced on Wednesday. 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.
"It's such a disappointment, but we'll fight again, " Mandella told the AP.
Omaha Beach won his past three starts, including the Arkansas Derby, while ridden by last year's Triple Crown winning jockey, Mike Smith. "He's OK. It's nothing life-threatening, which is the most important thing", Smith said. Game Winner had been the morning-line second choice at 5-1, with his other two horses next (Roadster and Improbable) at 6-1.
According to Dr. Foster Northrop, an entrapped epiglottis can happen when the tissue beneath it has swollen and popped up, wrapping around the epiglottis and preventing it from moving as normal.
Game Winner, the nation's best 2-year-old in 2017, is the new morning-line favorite at 9-2, even though the colt's most recent race is a one-half-length loss to Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby. With such a talented 2019 Kentucky Derby field and a major shakeup following the Omaha Beach injury, you'll want to hear what SportsLine's Jody Demling has to say.
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Mandella's dry sense of humor came out when he said, 'My wife has my leg tied down so I can't jump out of the window'.
Smith has three mounts on Friday's card at Churchill Downs and five Saturday. "I'll be a glorified cheerleader". The race could set up nicely for longshot horses to crash the board, particularly with a balanced blend of frontrunners, closers and stalkers that could push the Kentucky Derby pace in any direction.
With the scratch of Omaha Beach, Bodexpress will draw into the field and break from post position 20.
The colt galloped Wednesday morning without any problem and Mandella said everything was fine. All horses outside of Omaha Beach (post positions 13-20) will move over one position in the starting gate.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.