2019 Kentucky Derby: Omaha Beach scratched, undergoes surgery for breathing issue

Omaha Beach underwent successful surgery on Friday for the breathing condition that is keeping it out of the Kentucky Derby.

"I talked to Dr. Embertson and he was very happy with the surgery," Omaha Beach's owner Rick Porter said, via Bloodhorse.com. "He removed loose skin behind the epiglottis. It's a done deal. It couldn't have gone smoother."

In a massive shakeup to the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the morning line favorite was scratched from the race on Wednesday with entrapped epiglottis. 

Omaha Beach at first developed a cough, which a veterinary exam confirmed was entrapped epiglottis, according to the Associated Press. Racing with that condition would have been dangerous for the horse, but in most cases it is not life-threatening.

"It's been a devastating thing, but we have to do what's right for the horse," Richard Mandella, Omaha Beach's trainer, told the AP.

At 4/1, the horse was the clear favorite in the Derby field despite being set to start the race from the No. 12 post.

Jockey Mike Smith, who rode Justify to a Triple Crown in 2018, was supposed to ride Omaha Beach.

"I'm a little bummed out, but the horse is OK and we're going to be all right," Smith said. "The good news is it wasn't anything that is life-threatening."

Mandella, who has never won the Kentucky Derby in his six tries, expects the horse to be out for two to three weeks due to the surgery. Omaha Beach will also not race at the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

With the horse out, Kentucky Derby odds changed. Game Winner was at 5-1 but is now the new favorite at 9/2. Improbable and Roadster are right behind Game Winner at 5/1. Five-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert is the trainer of Game Winner.

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