By Richard Rosenblatt
A bruised foot briefly interrupted training about two weeks ago, but Omaha Beach appears in fine form and the likely favorite for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25.
The three-time Grade 1 winner as a 3-year-old — even though he missed the Triple Crown races with a throat issue requiring surgery — has been prepping for the final race of his career in South Florida since arriving from California at the start of the year.
In his most recent work, Omaha Beach went 5 furlongs in 1:00.42 at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 12, the sixth fastest of 27 workers over the same distance.
Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said after the work that Omaha Beach’s foot had been examined, the bruise was poulticed, new shoes were put on, and all seems well.
Mandella said last week that Omaha Beach could work again either Sunday or Monday (Jan. 20). “We’ll just see how things go,’’ he said.
Omaha Beach created quite a buzz leading up to the Kentucky Derby. The colt had handled just about everything five-time Derby and two-time Triple Crown winner Bob Baffert threw at him in the preps. He beat Game Winner in the Rebel (G2) and then took care of Improbable in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Omaha Beach was the morning-line favorite for the Derby, but was scratched a few days before the race because of a trapped epiglottis.
The colt recovered well, but other ailments kept him from returning to the races until October, when he defeated sprint specialist Shancelot in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1). Mandella was delighted, and the Breeders’ Cup was on the radar although it took a little time for Mandella to decide on the BC Dirt Mile over the Sprint or the Classic.
A good call, perhaps, but Smith had to take Omaha Beach five wide and came up second, 2 ¾ lengths behind Spun to Run. Far from discouraged, Mandella sent out Omaha Beach in the Malibu (G1) and what happened? He beats another Baffert horse, Roadster.
Trainer: Richard Mandella
Owner: Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm
Running style: Stalker
“Likely favorite effortlessly crushed Malibu; minor foot issue a concern.’’ – Ed McNamara
“Missed Triple Crown races, but still won three G1s … Big chance to cash in with absence of other heavyweights, but he won’t offer much value as the likely favorite.’’ – Noel Michaels
Notes: With a 2019 campaign of 7-5-2-0, Omaha Beach is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as 3-year-old male champion, along with Maximum Security and Code of Honor … First three career starts were on turf, where Omaha Beach was 0-for-3 before Mandella made the change to dirt … After the World Cup, Omaha Beach is scheduled to begin stud duty at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Kentucky.
|1||True Timber||Joe Bravo||Kiaran McLaughlin||15-1|
|2||Tax||Jose Ortiz||Danny Gargan||8-1|
|3||Diamond Oops||Julien Leparoux||Patrick Biancone||15-1|
|4||Seeking the Soul||John Velazquez||Dallas Stewart||30-1|
|5||Omaha Beach (SCR)||Mike Smith||Richard Mandella||SCR|
|6||Higher Power||Flavien Prat||John Sadler||6-1|
|7||War Story||Joel Rosario||Elizabeth Dobles||30-1|
|8||Mr Freeze||Luis Saez||Dale Romans||20-1|
|5||Spun to Run (SCR)||Javier Castellano||Juan Carlos Guerrero||SCR|
|10||Mucho Gusto||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Bob Baffert||9-2|
|11||Tenfold||Tyler Gaffalione||Steve Asmussen||30-1|
|12||Bodexpress||Emisael Jaramillo||Gustavo Delgado||30-1|
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.