February 25, 2021

Omaha Beach returns to face Shancelot in Santa Anita Sprint Championship

Omaha Beach galloping at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 (c) Coady Photography/Churchill Downs

Omaha Beach will make a long-awaited return to action in Saturday’s $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), a “Win & You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge prep for the November 2 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) held over the same track and distance.

Winner of the Arkansas Derby (G1) and a Rebel (G2) division last spring, Omaha Beach was the pre-race favorite for the Kentucky Derby (G1) but was forced to scratch days before the event due to an entrapped epiglottis.

“I’m excited,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “I’m not sure if he’s quick enough to beat some of the top sprinters in there, but he sure acts like he could.

“We’re anxious to see how it goes, but the main thing is getting him back to the races. We’ll see what might be next after we run. I’ll tell you after we get a race into him.”

The one to fear is another three-year-old, Shancelot. The once-beaten son of Shanghai Bobby set a Saratoga track record for 6 1/2 furlongs when taking the Amsterdam (G2) by 12 lengths in late July.

Next out, in the H. Allen Jerkens (G1) over seven furlongs, Shancelot was caught late and lost by a head after setting the pace over the inside part of the track generally deemed unfavorable throughout Travers Day.

***

Catapult, runner-up by a half-length in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1), aims for his first win of the season in the $200,000 City of Hope (G2), which could yield a starter or two for the November 2 renewal.

Closer to the pace than usual when a retreating fifth in the Eddie Read (G2) last time, Catapult is more effective taking one late run. His best finish this term was a nose second to Ohio in the March 30 Frank E. Kilroe Mile (G1).

In addition to Ohio, other notables in the lineup include the lightly-raced Prince Earl, last-out victor of the Del Mar Mile (G2); Bolo and River Boyne, one-two in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) last spring; True Valour, unraced since taking the Thunder Rod (G3) in February; and East Coast invader Synchrony, first in the King Edward (G2) and fifth in the Woodbine Mile (G1) in recent trips to Canada.

***

Anonymity has been knocking on the door at stakes level for more than a year and seeks a belated breakthrough in the $100,000 L.A. Woman (G3).

Second in this 6 1/2-furlong event last year before missing by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1), Anonymity has been runner-up in the Great Lady M (G2) and Rancho Bernardo H. (G3) in her two starts this term.

Morning line favorite Selcourt, the beaten favorite in last year’s Filly & Mare Sprint, shortens up to a better distance after weakening to fourth in the Beholder Mile (G1) when last seen in late March. The multiple graded stakes winner finished second in the Santa Monica (G2) two back.