Handsome horse Omaha Beach sports two neat white blazes on his face. | Courtesy of Coady Photography

By Fred Cowgill | WLKY

Omaha Beach, the favorite in this year’s Kentucky Derby, has been scratched due to a breathing issue, trainer Richard Mandella said Wednesday.

The horse has been the focus of attention at Churchill Downs for the last couple of weeks and was looking great. He had been recovering from a quarter crack in his front left hoof.

Mandella said the horse now has what is called “entrapped epiglottis,” which is not a life- or career-threatening injury.

“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.”

The epiglottis 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 (dorsal) the soft palate, according to Churchill Downs officials.

Mandella is a Hall of Fame trainer who has dreamed of winning the derby since he was in school. He will meet with media at 8 a.m. Thursday to discuss the issue.

With the scratch of Omaha Beach, Bodexpress will draw into 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.

This will dramatically change the pace scenario.

Florida Derby winner Maximum Security now has a better chance of winning the race on or near the lead with few up front to challenge him and keep the pace honest.