Omaha Beach gets a new Churchill Downs race target

August 26, 2019 01:17pm

Trainer Richard Mandella said Monday he expects Omaha Beach back on the work tab “in the next few days” breezing toward a new race target, one that will finally see the former Kentucky Derby favorite race at Churchill Downs.

The colt, who missed Sunday’s Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar due to a virus making its way around the barns, had been mentioned for Santa Anita Park’s Sept. 28 Awesome Again Stakes (G1). Mandella said he’ll instead get Omaha Beach going the same day in the Ack Ack (G3) under the Twin Spires.

“Going a mile, especially a one-turn mile, just seems like a nice way to come back,” the Hall of Fame trainer said. “A mile and an eighth seems like a little much for him after how long it’s going to have been since he ran.”

Scratched the week of the Derby to undergo throat surgery and clear his airway, Omaha Beach last raced in the April 13 Arkansas Derby (G1). He was working toward a return in the Shared Belief, also at a mile, before developing a sickness.

“He never got a fever,” Mandella said. “It was just mucus — a snotty nose — and it seems like it’s passed through pretty quick.”

Overall, Fox Hill Farms’ Omaha Beach is 3-3-1 in seven starts. He has won his last three races after beginning his career on turf, also taking a division Oaklawn Park’s Rebel Stakes (G2) after breaking his maiden.

Whether it was the Ack Ack or Awesome Again, Omaha Beach will go up against older competition for the first time.

“It’s kind of getting to where you don’t have many options,” Mandella said. “I’d rather not, but I like the horse I’ve got.”

Presumably, the Ack Ack could vault Omaha Beach on to a season-long goal of competing in the Breeders' Cup Classic back home at Santa Anita. It could also mean a new rider, at least for a race, with Mike Smith also owning the mount on early Awesome Again favorite McKinzie.

 

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