At the Kentucky Derby this year, only 19 horses will be competing, instead of the usual 20. That means that one racing stall will be left empty.
This is because two horses have scratched for the Derby in the last week, and there wasn’t a second alternate prepared to replace the second scratch.
The two horses who scratched for the derby are Omaha Beach and Haikal. Bodexpress is the horse that replaced Omaha Beach.
Here’s what you need to know:
Omaha Beach Scratched on Wednesday, May 1; He Was Replaced by Bodexpress
On May 1, Churchill Downs PR released the following statement on Twitter:
Breaking: morning line favorite Omaha Beach to scratch from
@KentuckyDerby, according to trainer Richard Mandella. Colt to miss race with entrapped epiglottis. Was discovered after cough and scope. More to come. Mandella will meet with media at Barn 28 at 8 a.m. Thursday.
Omaha Beach was considered the frontrunner for the Derby at the time.
Following that initial announcement, Churchill Downs PR released another tweet explaining what entrapped epiglottis is. The tweet read, “Epiglottis: 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. #KyDerby”
You can read more about Omaha Beach’s condition here.
Haikal Scratched on Friday, May 3, a Few Hours Before the Deadline; He Will Not Be Replaced
Haikal scratched from the Kentucky Derby on Friday morning, a day before the race. He is the second horse to withdraw, after Omaha beach, who was the favorite to win in many rankings.
According to his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, the reason Haikal scratched has to do with an abscess on his left front hoof. Per USA Today, McLaughlin said two days before the horse withdrew, “It’s going to be a quick fix, but I don’t know if it’s going to be quick enough. He has to train for us to be comfortable with him. … If he’s still sore, he won’t be.”
Following the decision to scratch Haikal, McLaughlin said the decision was made because they wanted to prioritize the horse’s health over everything else. Per The Courier Journal, McLaughlin said, “We put shoes back on him this morning and jogged him and he was still not 100 percent. After speaking with (Shadwell Farm’s North American general manager) Rich Nichols, we decided to scratch. The horse always comes first.”
McLaughlin continued, “It’s tough for the whole team, His Highness (Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum) and everyone involved, especially with being a homebred who was training so well. We’ll have to see what else is there now (race-wise) after he recovers.”
What Happens to the Bets Made on Haikal & Omaha Beach?
If you’ve placed a bet on Haikal or Omaha Beach, then it should be refunded, according to The Courier Journal. However, you should make sure that your bet has been refunded prior to the start of the Derby.