Smith makes Derby decision, Omaha Beach arrives at Churchill Downs

Smith makes Derby decision, Omaha Beach arrives at Churchill Downs
Omaha Beach arrives at Churchill Downs

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Arkansas Derby champ Omaha Beach had a big day. The Richard Mandella trainee vanned over from Oaklawn Park to Churchill Downs, and his connections found out that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride him in the Kentucky Derby.

Smith was deciding between Omaha Beach and Santa Anita Derby winner Roadster. Roadster is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Smith and Baffert teamed up in 2018 to win the Triple Crown with Justify.

That decision should seal it, Omaha Beach figures to the morning line favorite in Kentucky Derby 145.

“Omaha Beach has to be considered the favorite because he’s beaten the two big horses who were considered the winter book favorites all year long,” Darren Rogers of Churchill Downs said. “He beat Game Winner who was last years two-year-old champion and he defeated Improbable in the Arkansas Derby. Richard Mandella, by the way, one of five Hall of Fame trainers to have horses in this years Kentucky Derby. Richard Mandella will be looking for his first Derby winner and he’s got the horse to beat.”

Owned by Rick Porter, the name is sure to generate plenty of interest among veterans. It is the 75th anniversary of the Normany Invasion on Omaha Beach. Danita Conte was there to greet the horse at barn 28.

“I wanted to see Omaha Beach because my dad fought on Omaha Beach during the Normandy Invasion, and bless his soul, he’s passed away, but he’s looking at me from above, saying, pick him,” she said.

Omaha Beach is one of seven Kentucky Derby contenders on the grounds at Churchill Downs.

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