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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


All that any racing fan or gambler has been talking about since Saturday was the amazing return of star-crossed Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach. Can’t be hyperbolic enough about the achievement; circumstances so rare as to defy credulity.

Beyond the colt were all the accolades thrown Richard Mandella’s way. When the next book is written on trainers and their methodology, Mandella’s work with Omaha Beach would make for one very lengthy chapter.

Now it’s time to consider the future for beast and man. Doing what’s best for the horse is a fait accompli, Mandella a masterful puppeteer pulling all the right strings. The second consideration is Omaha Beach’s place in history. He could accomplish the unthinkable, a true singular achievement.

The first option for Omaha Beach would be the Sprint. If the goal strictly is to win an Eclipse Award, a three year old beating his elders and stuffing another Grade 1 title in his saddlebag, should ensure a championship. But a victory is far from a given.

Shancelot might have blinding zip that always will require catching, but Imperial Hint is a whole different animal. He can stalk and explode and has proven it. He might have been a tad over the top when beaten last year; this time he comes in fresh.

The pragmatic plan and, according to Mike Smith in a TVG interview, the pre-race thought was the Dirt Mile, a logical extension of Omaha Beach’s current form and rare adaptability. If there’s a prize to be won, he’s there.

From the Dirt Mile it’s two months to the Pegasus Invitational. Given his style, the Gulfstream Park dynamics are perfect for Omaha Beach. After that, the Dubai World Cup or anywhere else in the world. Good progression; good spacing.

If Omaha Beach were to enter the mile and a quarter Classic off a single six furlong sprint and win, he would become an instant legend. No one I’ve asked, or heard from, can ever recall a horse winning back to back Grade 1s off a six-month layoff turning back from nine furlongs to six.

And, now, to stretch out four weeks later to a distance that demands speed, stamina and class against older, proven Grade 1 handicappers is, well, crazy. Right?

Smith intimated this horse has the capability to win at a mile and a quarter. And Mandella would not even consider it if he thought it not in the colt’s best interest. If he does enter the Classic, Omaha Beach would have a better chance than most to succeed, meaning McKinzie and all the rest.

Surely, ‘Papa’ will watch his horse train very closely and the presumed favorite even closer.

Owner Rick Porter is a gentleman of the turf, a sportsman who has taken on challenges before. If his Hall of Fame trainer thinks he can win, and his Hall of Fame rider concurs, Porter’s horse could accomplish something that not only hasn’t been done before, but might never happen again.

A victory in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Classic brings with it the kind of status reserved only for the greatest of the greats.

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2 Responses

  1. Omaha Beach’s victory is being overblown to some extent, after all he beat a horse, Shancealot, that had given it up in his previous race, at very short odds. According to the Beyer number, a 103, there was nothing special about this past race either.

    Note too that Shancealot has regressed a lot from the huge number he earned in the Amsterdam.

    Let’s see how OB comes out of this race, and how he trains going forward, before speculating on where he goes next.

    Denny Mich

  2. Skeptic, you are right to have doubts and I agree with what you said.

    It may take a while before Shancealot gets over the huge Amsterdam effort. Actually, some horses never come back following such efforts.

    My thinking is that the sheets performance-figure for Shancelot will be an improvement over his prior–but that’s a guess.

    Beyer figures are linear and, while effective and interesting, I don’t use them for form-cycle analysis.

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