2019 Kentucky Derby favorite scratched

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher 

The streak of Kentucky Derby favorites to win the historic race is over. Omaha Beach, who was the favorite heading into Saturday’s race, will no longer compete. 

He has been scratched, according to his trainer Richard Mandella. Omaha Beach is dealing with entrapped epiglottis, a respiratory issue that requires minor surgery and time off. 

Former 2019 Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach in their stall at the Kentucky Derby
Omaha Beach in their stall at the Kentucky Derby (Photo by the Kentucky Derby)

“After training this morning, we noticed him cough a few times,” Mandella said. “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.”

According to the Churchill Downs PR, the entrapped epiglottis was discovered following the horse developed a cough. The horse underwent a scope when the issue was found. 

Epiglottis, according to Churchill Downs PR, is a triangular-shaped cartilage that lies at the base of the airway just in front of the arytenoid cartilages, which cover the airway during swallowing. It is normally located above the soft palate. 

As of May 1st at 3:26 pm, according to twinspires.com, the official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby, Omaha Beach had a 4-1 betting odds to win before being scratched. The horse was going to be ridden by Mike E. Smith, who won the Triple Crown last year with Justify. 

Twinspires Screenshot
Twinspires Screenshot

With this scratch, Mandella will have to try again with a new horse in the next several years. This was his first attempt in the “Run for the Roses,” since 2004 when his horses Action This Day finished sixth and Minister Eric finished 14th.

Mandella was 0-6 previously in the Kentucky Derby. 

The Kentucky Derby favorites had won the last six years (2013-18). These include wins by Orb (2013), California Chrome (2014), American Pharoah (2015), Nyquist (2016), Always Dreaming (2017), and Justify (2018). 

Both American Pharoah and Justify won the Triple Crown. Previously, before American Pharoah, Affirmed was the last horse to accomplish this feat in 1978.

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