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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


After all the delays before and after the longest recovery time allotted for a myectomy ever, I get why it’s unreasonable to think that Omaha Beach, the 2019 Kentucky Derby morning line favorite, would go hunting for older bears with a younger switch going a mile and a quarter off a lone prep against the world’s best handicappers following a six-month layup.

Research indicates that recovery time from a procedure to correct an entrapped epiglottis can span anywhere from six to eight weeks. But it’s been six months since Omaha Beach raced, last April in Hot Springs.

Omaha Beach was scheduled to return in Del Mar’s Shared Belief Stakes, subsequently won by Improbable, a rival Omaha Beach beat in the Arkansas Derby. That victory cast him in the role KY Derby favorite.

Then the target became the one-turn Ack Ack mile at Churchill Downs, at an appropriate distance with favorable dynamics and excellent spacing to the next stop. It made sense.

But those plans went awry, too, owing to an aborted workout.

“I didn’t want to ship him unless everything was perfect,” said his exacting Hall of Famer trainer. which also made sense.

The new target now is the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship, OCT. 5. The SA Sprint, at six furlongs, is a Breeders’ Cup Sprint “Win and You’re In” event. But running in the Sprint doesn’t make sense, unless…

Many believed this talented three year old was the best of his topsy-turvy generation. Now we’re supposed to think that going from mile-and-a-quarter Derby dreams in spring translates to a six-furlong dash in the fall. This doesn’t scan well.

I envision of few possible scenarios playing out: Omaha Beach returns to win another Grade 1, a sprint to go with his Grade 1 route, and is suddenly retired.

Or he wins the SA Sprint Championship with something in reserve and goes on to the BC Sprint and wins that, and retires.

Or, sensibly, of all goes well on OCT. 5, he returns in the BC Dirt Mile and wins, a victory that also looks good on a sire’s resume.

And now that he has two races under his girth, he goes a bit farther around two turns at speed-friendly Gulfstream Park, targeting the prestigious and rich Pegasus Invitational before being whisked off to the spring breeding season.

Beyond that, there is the gazillion-dollar race in Saudi Arabia–an obscenely grotesque purse with a destination that’s equally abhorrent, and, of course, Dubai, only a little less so but with a rich history on the racetrack and in sales rings around the world.

Doubtlessly, Richard Mandella will be afforded the respect he deserves and has earned, and the owners will heed his advice.

But his call might conflict with a post-racing agenda over which he has no control, only a substantial economic interest.

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8 Responses

  1. You’ve summarized the situation perfectly and somewhat charitably.

    Let’s review: He was the favorite for the Derby but scratched for a sore throat.

    His comeback was announced for the Shared Belief at Del Mar but Mandella took him out of that nondescript stakes for a reason never fully explained.

    Next came the Ack Ack. Another horse interfering with his workout knocked him out of that race.

    Now we’re looking at the Santa Anita Sprint. There’s still almost two weeks to come up with a reason not to run there.

    You’re being optimistic to think even if he runs there, he will come back in one of the Breeders’ Cup stakes. However I do like that each of your suggestions ends with him being retired, the most likely of all the scenarios.

  2. If given only one guess as if my life depended on it; I’d like someone to set a prop price on: wins the SA Sprint and is retired shortly thereafter.

    1. Mandella says he’s a “go.” Prop bet a loser. Saw a guy in Vegas once who had a $500.00 4 game parlay ticket. He was cashing for 10k in front of me at Hilton Sports Book. I noticed he had one NHL game, one NBA and two college hoops. I don’t know about you but I was impressed. I once had a bet on St. Louis in Monday Night Football away game. They were a 1 home favorite. Game tied at 0-0 so it went into OT. Then a dropped pass in end zone (wide open) and missed chip shot field goal attempt. Final: 0-0 in overtime. Giants cover and I lose. Gave up sports betting after that. Next week Neil O’Donaghue nails 50 foot field goal for Cardinals. Of course he did!

      1. meant to say St. Louis was at home were a one-point favorite. “Lost” in overtime, 0-0. What made it even worse was hearing Dandy Don Meredith start to sing, “Say goodnight, the party’s…HE MISSED IT (chip shot FG attempt)!!!” That was a tough one to take.

  3. This is the first post in several days where I have been able to read more than one comment, though several comments are noted. Is the problem mine or HRI? Please advise.

  4. wmc,
    I’m having a similar problem.

    For some time now, I’ve had to Google “Horseraceinsider September 24, 2019” to get a list of articles for that date and then access one from the list. Had there been another blog entry, would now have to go back to the Google list each time to access it.

    I can no longer find the latest articles for each blogger, group, or category using the links at the top of each page.

    Sometimes the comment count will not be zero, but no comments are displayed above the new comment box. Sometimes the comment is accepted and I get a subscription email, but never a “someone responded” email.

    The only top-of-page link that functions for me is the one to my blog contributions. The one from June shows 8 comments and all are displayed. However, the one for September shows 0 comments although there are 3 displayed.

    We can continue working on this by email, but I wanted to encourage anyone else who is having problems navigating the site and/or posting comments to let all readers know in case the problem is larger than expected.


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