Omaha Beach, running his first race since scratching as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby, rallied at the end to win the Grade 1 $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Cup by a head and qualify for the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 1-2.
The dominance in the stretch was evident and allayed any fears that the 3-year-old colt had lost ability since last running in the Arkansas Derby on April 13. While the win qualified him for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, he has more options than that to run in.
It was a bittersweet day for trainer Richard Mandella as earlier, Ky. Colonel, a 5-year-old Mandella-trained gelding, collapsed and died in what will likely be classified as a sudden death, which usually indicates a heart attack. A necropsy will be performed. It happened on the training track, considered the safest of the surfaces, after jogging. There was no obvious indication of any muscular-skeletal issues that have dogged the sport as Ky. Colonel becomes the 33rd racing or training fatality at Santa Anita since Dec. 26.
Ky. Colonel had won five of 20 races lifetime, mostly racing at claiming or in low-level stakes. He was bought as a yearling for $105,000 at Keeneland.
Later on Saturday, Mandella’s mood picked up talking about Omaha Beach.
“I’m just very relieved to have him back,” Mandella said. “This horse has a heart of gold and he’s got the greatest personality of any horse I’ve ever had. I would say anything’s possible. … I want to enjoy this one, but the [Breeders’ Cup] Sprint, the Mile and the mile and a quarter (Classic) are all possible. …We’re gonna run in the Breeders’ Cup.”
Omaha Beach paid $7.20, $2.40 and $2.10. Shancelot was second and Flagstaff finished third. Mike Smith was the winning jockey.
Preakness to stay in Baltimore
After years of acrimony, the Stronach Group and the city of Baltimore have come to an agreement that will keep the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown, in Baltimore at Pimlico Race Course for at least 30 years. While there are still some legislative hurdles, the deal, first reported by the Baltimore Sun, would have TSG turn over the track to the city of Baltimore and in exchange would get a 30-year lease and around $200 million in improvements to Pimlico and $173 million in renovations to Laurel, a suburban track owned by TSG.
Pimlico has been an embarrassment in recent years because of its crumbling structure that forced them to close part of the grandstand because of safety issues. In addition, earlier this year, most of the track was without running water during Preakness week.
There is racing at Pimlico only three weeks a year, around the Preakness, which is held the third Saturday in May.