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Top Kentucky Derby Contender, Omaha Beach, Scratches From Race

Churchill Downs Media Center

Omaha Beach, who was picked as a front-runner for the 145th annual Kentucky Derby, has been scratched from this Saturday’s race. Renowned jockey Mike Smith was supposed to ride the horse.

According to a press release, trainer Richard Mandella said the issue was an entrapped epiglottis, an airway abnormality that can affect a horse’s performance. It will require surgery and a three-week recovery time.

“After training this morning we noticed him cough a few times,” Mandella said in the 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...We’ll have to figure out a whole new game plan.”

During the draw for post positions on Tuesday morning, Churchill Downs’ assistant secretary of racing, Dan Bork, described Omaha Beach as having “Hall of Fame credentials,” and that he “has done absolutely nothing wrong.”

He was coming off wins at Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby.

Now that Omaha Beach has scratched, Bodexpress will enter the field and break from post position 20. All horses outside of Omaha Beach — post positions 13-20 — will move over one position in the starting gate.

Additionally, with Omaha Beach dropping out, famed trainer Bob Baffert’s three horses  — Game Winner, Roadster and Improbable — are all top contenders for the Derby.

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