The late defection of Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Omaha Beach could have a positive impact on several contenders this Saturday.
Omaha Beach figured to be in a pace-pressing position from post 12. War of Will, who drew the rail post, still figures to be sent hard from the opening bell and should make the lead. Maximum Security (post 7), the Florida Derby winner, likes to be on or near the pace and without Omaha Beach to push him from his outside, Maximum Security could be the one to inherit a pressing position and get first run at the projected early leader. And with slightly less early pace pressure, that could be a very good early position.
The scratch of Omaha Beach also changes post positions. All horses drawn outside post 12 will move in one slot. The Japan-raced Master Fencer (post 15) was originally slotted to be in the first stall of the auxiliary gate, but now moves into the outside stall of the main starting gate in post 14.
Game Winner now moves into stall 15, and that gives the Bob Baffert trainee some room to maneuver with plenty of space between the outside of the main gate and the inside of the auxiliary gate. The post switch should help jockey Joel Rosario to secure a stalking position.
For those who believe in numbers, Long Range Toddy moves from post 18 to post 17. His new post is 0-for-40 so far in Kentucky Derby history.
One other important note. Thursday morning, Haikal (post 11) was diagnosed with an abscess in his left front foot and his participation in the Derby is now listed as doubtful.
If he does not run, all of the horses to his outside will move in another spot, and Game Winner would still have a post with some elbow room on the outside of the main gate should that be the case.
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