Omaha Beach Scratch Forces Bookies to Refund KY Derby Bets
Just three days from the start of the Kentucky Derby some major news has shifted the odds dramatically.
Omaha Beach, the favorite when morning-line odds and post positions were set Tuesday, has officially been scratched from the “Run for the Roses” due to an entrapped epiglottis.
So what does this all mean for Kentucky Derby betting?
What Changes Now that the Derby Favorite is Out?
For starters, everyone who bet on Omaha Beach to win, place or show on Saturday can have horse racing sportsbooks cancel their bets before race time.
This obviously gives bettors a second chance, but is a fairly regrettable position for bookies to find themselves in given the millions of dollars wagered on the Kentucky Derby every year.
Omaha Beach will be replaced by the first (and only) also eligible horse this year, Bodexpress, though he will not be assuming Omaha Beach’s position.
Instead, every horse situated below Omaha Beach (he was at No. 12) will have their post position shifted up one spot, though they retain their numbers. Bodexpress will assume the 20th spot.
Hypothetically if another horse were to be scratched before race time, there will be no more replacements as Bodexpress was the only horse eligible to fill in.
As would be expected, the morning-line odds for the Derby have already shifted and been reset by Mike Battaglia. Battaglia set the odds for the race earlier this week and has done so for every Kentucky Derby since 1974.
Revised @KentuckyDerby morning line odds from @ChurchillDowns oddsmaker Mike Battaglia when Omaha Beach is officially scratched with KHRC stewards. Battaglia: "If Baffert ran as an entry, he'd be a 7-5 favorite to win his sixth Kentucky Derby." pic.twitter.com/bPepoQTXtm— Churchill Downs PR (@DerbyMedia) May 1, 2019
What Happened to Omaha Beach?
A disappointed Richard Mandella, Omaha Beach’s trainer, confirmed in a release to media Wednesday afternoon that the health issue would take weeks rather than days to remedy.
“After training this morning we noticed him cough a few times. 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.”
As clarified by Churchill Downs Public Relations, 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.”
The entrapment of the epiglottis, therefore, causes trouble breathing, and while Omaha Beach will be fine in the long run it’s clearly unsafe for him to proceed with the Derby.
It’s uncommon for a favorite to be scratched in what’s considered to be one of the biggest races of the year for horse racing betting, but it’s actually now happened three times in the last decade.
Uncle Mo was favored to win the Derby at 9-2 odds back in 2012, while I Want Revenge was favored at 3-1 odds in 2010.
Who are the New Kentucky Derby 2019 Favorites?
Bob Baffert, considered one of the greatest horse trainers of all time, has three horses in the race, though none of them were listed as the initial favorite.
Now all three (Game Winner, Roadster and Improbable) fall neatly into place as the favorites to win, place and show respectively.
Game Winner, now at the 15th position, is the new favorite with odds set at 9-2, while Roadster is close behind with 5-1 odds in the 16th position. Finally, Improbable also faces 5-1 odds while remaining in the fifth position.
Baffert has become a Kentucky Derby fixture as he’s seen five of his horses win the race including two Triple Crown winners (American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018) over the course of his esteemed career.
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