This morning, Richard Mandella was back at the last place he expected to be four days ago—his home base of Santa Anita.
It was late Wednesday afternoon in Kentucky when it was announced that the three-year-old he trains, Omaha Beach, who happened to be the favorite to win today's 145th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, would miss the race because of an entrapped epiglottis.
After dealing with the physical and emotional aftermath in the Blue Grass State, the 68-year-old Hall of Fame trainer was back on the beat at The Great Race Place Saturday, having returned to California Friday.
“They did the procedure to treat the epiglottis yesterday and it was a very simple deal, so it's done,” Mandella said. “He'll probably get two weeks off, something like that. He'll stay in Kentucky, then return here and go back in training.
“It isn't that big of a deal. The big deal is the timing (which cost him a start in the Kentucky Derby).”
Mandella, winless with six previous starters in the Run for the Roses, was somewhat overwhelmed with the support he and his horse received after the heart-breaking news.
“They had a press conference after the announcement and it was standing room only in this big room,” he said, “and I thanked everybody for being so concerned . . . It was emotional but we got through it.”
Suggested that Omaha Beach's defection was somewhat traumatizing for all involved, Mandella deflected such thoughts by turning on his self-deprecating sense of humor.
“I suspect Baffert had something to do with it,” he said, laughing heartily. “He was seen in my barn late that night. Seriously, these opportunities don't come along very often.
“Omaha Beach is a special horse.”
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.