September 24, 2020

Omaha Beach looking ‘good’ for Pegasus World Cup after foot bruise

Omaha Beach pictured upon his arrival at Gulfstream Dec. 31 (Coglianese Photos/Ryan Thompson)

Presumptive Pegasus World Cup (G1) favorite Omaha Beach hasn’t had the smoothest of preparations for his Jan. 25 swan song, with a foot bruise affecting his routine this week at Gulfstream Park. But on Friday, the multiple Grade 1 hero turned in a gallop, and trainer Richard Mandella told track publicity that he was on course.

“He galloped about a mile and a half this morning and looked good,” the Hall of Famer said.

“He had a bruise in his foot the other day. We took the shoes off. We poulticed it for a day and put some new shoes on (Thursday).

“I’ll give him a few days to get used to that. I’ll probably work him next Monday. It could be Sunday. We’ll just see how things go.”

Mandella sounds hopeful about Omaha Beach’s going out on a high note in the Pegasus, while alluding to the fact that the Arkansas Derby (G1), Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), and Malibu (G1) winner has a solid resume as it stands.

“I’m anxious to get it on. It’s great for racing and there are a bunch of pretty nice horses.

“It would be very validating, but he’s done a lot for us already and proven how good he is. But we expect something big on the day.”

There’s historical precedent to back up Mandella’s view. Remember the concern over Arrogate’s foot going into the 2017 Pegasus World Cup? All scruples were swept aside by his track record-setting romp.

Unlike Arrogate, who went on to triumph in the Dubai World Cup (G1) before disappointing in the second half of the season, Omaha Beach is retiring to stud at Spendthrift.

“I still haven’t given up the idea of kidnapping him,” Mandella quipped.

“It’s a pleasure to have a horse like him. Not many people in the world get the chance to have a horse like him.”

The Pegasus World Cup would have been more informative had Kentucky Derby (G1) demotee Maximum Security and McKinzie taken up their invitations, but both are reportedly pointing for the Feb. 29 Saudi Cup worth $20 million. Thus Omaha Beach, who scratched from the Kentucky Derby as the morning-line favorite, won’t ever have a chance to meet Maximum Security on the racetrack barring a change of plan. Both are 2019 Eclipse Awards finalists in the 3-year-old male division, with Maximum Security likely to take the honors at the Jan. 23 gala.

Omaha Beach is set to renew rivalry with Spun to Run, who upset him in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) two starts ago. Others from the list of Pegasus invitees expected to compete in the $3 million race, according to Daily Racing Form, are Pacific Classic (G1) winner Higher Power, third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1); Grade 1 veteran Seeking the Soul, runner-up in last year’s Pegasus; multiple Grade 3 scorer Mr Freeze, coming off a third in the Clark (G1); Jim Dandy (G2) hero Tax, second in the Discovery (G3) after a break due to illness; and Diamond Oops, who annexed the Dec. 21 Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream.

DRF’s Marty McGee adds that Coolmore turf star Magic Wand remains possible for the 1 1/8-mile dirt affair, although the Aidan O’Brien globetrotter is probably bound for the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1). Magic Wand was second to Bricks and Mortar in last year’s inaugural running.