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The biggest horse race of the year was turned upside down Wednesday, as morning line favorite Omaha Beach was scratched from this weekend’s 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Richard Mandella said the horse has an entrapped epiglottis, “an upper-airway abnormality that can cause poor performance.” Omaha Beach had won three straight races, including the Arkansas Derby on April 13, and was named the favorite at 4-1 odds.
Oddsmaker Mike Battaglia, who has set the Derby’s morning line since 1975, named Game Winner the new favorite, in Omaha Beach’s absence, at 9/2 odds. Game Winner had opened at 5-1, before Omaha Beach was scratched. Improbable and Roadster are now listed at 5-1, with all three horses being trained by Bob Baffert.
Weather is usually a factor at the Run for the Roses, and rain’s recent run of luck is almost as impressive as the favorites’ winning streak. Damp, but otherwise mild weather looks to be in the forecast for Saturday. However, Thunderstorms could threaten Friday’s undercard, including a possible delay of the Kentucky Oaks.
Supposing you only follow horse racing one or two months a year, a guide is available for you, the lapsed fan. Undercard races begin Friday afternoon, Eastern, then resume Saturday morning. Just remember not to bet on Omaha Beach.
Nearly $150 million was wagered on last year’s Kentucky Derby, a new record, and an increasing number of punters are placing bets using cryptocurrency. Although cryptocurrency represents a small fraction of overall wagers being made on the Kentucky Derby, US Racing anticipates its usage to increase approximately 13% from last year. The increasing usage of cryptocurrency in high-profile events, like the Derby, could signify an end to the Crypto Winter.