By Richard Rosenblatt
A throat issue that required surgery, a bruised footand now a right hind leg injury.
Omaha Beach, the star-crossed colt who was the even-money favorite for Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup (G1), has been scratched due to his latest setback.
“It was observed this morning that Omaha Beach had light swelling in his right hind fetlock,” Hall of Famer Richard Mandella said Thursday. “While we are disappointed to have to miss the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Omaha Beach’s safety and well-being comes first and we wanted to do what was best for him. He has been a great pleasure to have around the barn and we are grateful for the opportunity to train such a magnificent horse.”
The three-time Grade 1 winner as a 3-year-old — even though he missed the Triple Crown races with an entrapped epiglottis, had been prepping well for the final race of his career.
In his most recent work, Omaha Beach covered 5 furlongs in 1:00.72 at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19, the third fastest of 25 workers over the same distance.
“The boy (exercise rider Fernando De La Cruz) said he felt like a Cadillac. Actually, like a Porsche,’’ said Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella after the workout.”
Following a previous workout on Jan. 12, Mandella said that Omaha Beach’s foot had been examined, the bruise was poulticed, new shoes were put on, and all was well.
Earlier, second-choice Spun to Run was scratched with a skin rash and the field is now down to 10 horses.
It could have been a fitting end for a horse that 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 the throat issue.
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 jockey Mike 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.
In the World Cup, Omaha Beach would have faced another Baffert trainee, Mucho Gusto.
Post position: Scratched
Jockey: Mike Smith
Trainer: Richard Mandella
Owner: Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farm
Career record: 10-5-4-1
Career earnings: $1,651,800
Running style: Stalker
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.