Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach is scratched

Omaha Beach runs on the track during morning training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 1, 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky.
Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Favorite Omaha Beach was scratched from the Kentucky Derby because of a breathing problem Wednesday night.

Trainer Richard Mandella told The Associated Press the colt developed a cough and a subsequent veterinary exam showed Omaha Beach has an entrapped epiglottis. It's generally not life- or career-threatening and is typically corrected with minor surgery.

Omaha Beach was made the 4-1 early favourite for Saturday's 145th Derby. His defection leaves a pair of Hall of Famers on the sidelines — Mandella and jockey Mike Smith.

"It's been a devastating thing, but we have to do what's right for the horse," said Mandella, who has never won the Derby.

The colt galloped Wednesday morning without any problem and Mandella said everything was fine.

But that changed by late afternoon when the exam showed the cough was more than a minor irritation.

The role of likely favourite now falls to Game Winner, who was the 5-1 second choice. Omaha Beach's scratch moves Bodexpress into the field in the No. 20 post.