If your Kentucky Derby game plan included a win wager on morning line favorite Omaha Beach, you’ll need to make a call to the bullpen. The Arkansas Derby winner trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella was scratched Wednesday from the $3 million Kentucky Derby because of a breathing problem.
“A little bit of coughing caused us to scope him,” Mandella said. “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 like three weeks. Then we’ll have to figure out a whole new game plan.”
The condition can indicate the start of a virus, a sore throat or a sore somewhere in the horse’s soft palate. But the horse’s condition has to have owner Rick Porter feeling sick. Porter has twice finished second in the Derby in 2007 and 2008.
The 2018 Triple-Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith will also be sidelined from the Derby as the rider of Omaha Beach, who he chose to ride instead of the other leading favorite Roadster. But for Mandella it’s an especially tough time as his Derby dreams are dashed with a top contender after having never won the Derby with six previous starters.
“We have to do what’s right for the horse,” he told the AP. “It’s such a disappointment, but we’ll fight again. We won’t be out a long time.”
Updated Kentucky Derby odds
The unfortunate turn for Omaha Beach leaves the Derby door wide open in what was already considered a race with 8-10 solid win contenders. Race alternate Bodexpress draws into the field and will break from the far outside post.
Kentucky Derby odds were updated early Thursday morning.
|Post Position||Horse||Current Odds (5/4)||Opening Odds|
|1||War of Will||15-1||20-1|
|3||By My Standards||15-1||20-1|
|9||Plus Que Parfait||30-1||30-1|
|13||Code of Honor||12-1||15-1|
|14||Win Win Win||12-1||15-1|
|18||Long Range Toddy||30-1||30-1|
Updated weather report
Friday and Saturday both have rain in the forecast in Louisville at Churchill Downs. So the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on Friday will be worth watching for track conditions.
Saturday calls for a 90% chance of rain and it’s likely a third straight year that the Kentucky Derby will be run over a wet or sloppy track. Churchill Downs has a reputation for rapidly draining and drying, which keeps the surface from being muddy.
Omaha Beach had won the Arkansas Derby over a sloppy track. Three other runners raced at Churchill Downs last year over a sloppy surface: War of Will (1st) in his Churchill Downs debut, By My Standards (2nd) in his career debut and Plus Que Parfait (2nd) in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
Pace of the race
Pressure and pace are always considerations when wagering on a race and especially the Kentucky Derby with 20 horses. Nearly half the 3-year-olds in this year’s Derby possess natural running styles that always have them forwardly placed. That can create a lot of pressure which can actually be more energy zapping than the actual pace of the race according to Mike Shutty, handicapping analyst for the Super Screener and Horse Racing Nation.
Bob Baffert, who trained Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winners Justify (2018) and American Pharoah (2015), has three horses in this year’s Derby including the two favorites Game Winner and Roadster. But he’ll send Improbable to the front to contest the pace against Florida Derby front-running winner Maximum Security in hopes of ensuring an honest pace to help his dynamic duo coming from just off the pace.
The absence of Omaha Beach creates more opportunities for a mid-range or longshot to hit the board and create a bigger score for bettors. Perhaps a sloppy track off the pace runner like Spinoff will be a contrary cash winner with a Win Win Win opportunity for other top tactical runners and challengers like Tacitus.