June 19, 2024

Omaha Beach ‘smooth’ in Pegasus World Cup work

Omaha Beach posted his first work since the Malibu and a foot bruise (Lauren King/Coglianese Photos)

After missing a planned work due to last week’s foot bruise, Pegasus World Cup (G1) favorite Omaha Beach got back on the tab Sunday with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.42 at Gulfstream Park.

The Richard Mandella trainee took to the track with Julien Leparoux aboard, posted splits of :23.92 and :35.77, and galloped out six in 1:14.35. Clocker Bruno de Julio caught his final quarter a tad quicker than the official:

“Everything was good,” Leparoux told Gulfstream publicity. “To me, it looked very nice, very smooth. He was happy doing it. It felt good. It was a good breeze, I thought.”

“It went nice,” Mandella noted. “He missed a few days last week and missed a work, but no big deal. We’ve got time. We’ll get another one next week, in six or seven days, and I think we’ll be ready to go.”

Omaha Beach hadn’t recorded a move since Dec. 22 at Santa Anita, when firing a bullet three-eighths in :34.00 ahead of his brilliant Malibu (G1) victory. The Fox Hill Farms colorbearer shipped to Gulfstream on New Year’s Eve to gear up for his career finale in the Jan. 25 Pegasus, only to meet with a hiccup that briefly affected his training.

On Friday, Omaha Beach resumed galloping, and on Saturday, Mandella gave the go-ahead to work Sunday. As the first breeze back from a race, and a foot issue, the objective was to get into the swing of things again and not so much to burn up the track. The Hall of Fame trainer was satisfied with a mission accomplished.

“They said it was a really nice work, but we weren’t looking to light any bulbs up,” Mandella summed up. “We were just trying to get a nice work today, and next week it will probably be a little better.

“As you can see, it’s working pretty good,” he added regarding the colt’s foot. “We’ve got a lot of time to the race, so I think we’re in good shape.”

Leparoux may be asked to steer Omaha Beach in the next breeze as well before regular rider, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, takes the reins in the $3 million Pegasus.

An Eclipse Award finalist in the 3-year-old male category likely to be won by Maximum Security, Omaha Beach is seeking one final resume update in the 1 1/8-mile feature. The Arkansas Derby (G1) winner and morning-line Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite had to miss the Triple Crown with an entrapped epiglottis, but came back in top form in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1). Although upset by Pegasus rival Spun to Run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), he rebounded in the Dec. 28 Malibu.

The War Front blueblood will enter stud at Spendthrift, where he figures to be a popular first-season stallion regardless of what happens in the Pegasus.

“I’ve never had a horse that is completely good-minded like this,” Mandella said. “Good horses, they get tough, aggressive. When it’s time to go he does rise to the occasion. Other than that he’s like a pet. He’s just the sweetest horse I ever saw.”


Also working at Gulfstream Sunday was Pennsylvania Derby (G1) shocker Math Wizard, who sped a half-mile in :47.75. The Saffie Joseph Jr. trainee was invited to the Pegasus, but like fellow invitees Maximum Security and McKinzie, is instead ticketed for the $20 million Saudi Cup on Feb. 29. That inaugural is coming up a dandy with presumptive champion older dirt female Midnight Bisou also confirmed for Riyadh.

Meanwhile at Santa Anita, trainer John Sadler indicated plans might be evolving for Gift Box. The Pegasus invitee has been in the mix for the Saudi Cup too, but following his Friday half-mile spin in :49.20, Sadler told track publicity that he could opt for a title defense in the March 7 Santa Anita H. (G1) – “might stay here.”

His connections already have Pacific Classic (G1) hero Higher Power penciled in for the Pegasus. Third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) last out, the Hronis Racing runner blitzed six panels in a bullet 1:12.60 at Santa Anita Saturday.


Another Pegasus invitee who was mulling a Middle East swing for Saudi and Dubai, Bravazo, is definitely remaining stateside – at Oaklawn Park. Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas explained his rationale favoring Oaklawn’s series for older horses culminating in the $1 million Oaklawn H. (G2) April 18.

“Got to thinking about it and this is a nice four-race series here,” Lukas told track publicity Jan. 8. “We’re coming off a long layoff, actually coming off surgery, and I think taking this approach, getting a mile under our belt, then a mile and a sixteenth, another mile and a sixteenth before we go out to a mile and an eighth, the big one, I think logically it’s the smart thing to do. No shipping.”

Bravazo tried to go nine furlongs in his first start back from surgery, but wound up eighth in the Clark (G1). Now he can have a gentler progression through the Jan. 25 Fifth Season, Feb. 17 Razorback H. (G3), and March 14 Essex H.

“The other thing that enters into it,” Lukas said of the domestic program, “it gives us a horse that’s probably going to be fresh and right on his game going into the Grade 1 season in the spring. If we go to Saudi and Dubai, we would have to have some downtime coming home from there, I’m sure. I’ve never been, but my colleagues tell me that those horses have to have some downtime.”


Aside from Omaha Beach, Spun to Run, and Higher Power, others reportedly Pegasus-bound are Seeking the Soul, Tax, Mr Freeze, and Diamond Oops.

Last year’s Pegasus runner-up, Seeking the Soul, worked six furlongs at his Fair Grounds base Friday in 1:12.60. Although the Grade 1 veteran hasn’t been in form of late, trainer Dallas Stewart is keeping faith in the 7-year-old.

“He’s a really remarkable racehorse,” Stewart told Fair Grounds publicity. “He bounces back year after year, race after race. He worked really well this morning. Visually he still does it so easily. He’s prepping for the Pegasus again and looks just as good as he did last year. He likes that track and he’s feeling good. I’m really happy with him. He’s trained consistently at Fair Grounds so just hoping for the best. We will see what happens in the race.”

Mr Freeze took a five-eighths tour in 1:03.92 at Gulfstream Saturday. At Palm Meadows, Jim Dandy (G2) scorer Tax zipped a half-mile in a bullet :47.60 Jan. 9, and Diamond Oops covered seven grassy furlongs in 1:23.40 on Jan. 6. Spun to Run, who went a sharp half in :48 at Palm Meadows Jan. 5, is scheduled to work Monday according to Blood-Horse.