Omaha Beach injury 'self-healing' as bittersweet career ends

January 24, 2020 09:30am

The star-crossed racing career of Omaha Beach came to a stunning and premature end Thursday after "light swelling" was discovered in his right-hind fetlock, forcing him to be scratched from a planned racing finale in Saturday's Pegasus World Cup (G1).

When the news broke midday Thursday, it hit the sport like a sledgehammer, with racing fans only left to contemplate what might have been when it comes to the colt’s unfulfilled potential on the racetrack. But for those involved with Omaha Beach, the more pressing concern is of what's to come.

Campaigned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms, Omaha Beach is scheduled to stand his first season at stud at Spendthrift Farm in central Kentucky when the breeding season opens next month. The tentative plan was for Omaha Beach to ship to Spendthrift from Gulfstream Park on Monday afternoon to begin preparations for his new career. While Omaha Beach’s leg injury may push back his arrival to Kentucky, it is not expected to have an impact once the breeding season begins.
“It’s a self-healing kind of situation,” Porter said. “From what I’ve been told, it’s 99.9 percent that he’ll be ready to go [for the breeding season]." Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella discovered the swelling following a routine gallop on Thursday afternoon. A subsequent X-ray examined by Dr. Larry Bramlage showed the early stages of a potential fracture. “[Bramlage] blew up the x-ray and said, ‘This little spot here, I’m not sure, but it could be the beginning of a cannon bone fracture. Unfortunately, you guys know we cannot take a chance.’ So that was it,” Porter said.     On Thursday afternoon, Spendthrift's Marketing Director Joel Cunningham said the farm was awaiting further evaluation to determine if Omaha Beach does make the trip north on Monday. Once Omaha Beach is at Spendthrift, he will continue to be monitored and evaluated. “A checkup on a horse for racing and breeding can be a lot alike, but they are also two different evaluations,” Cunningham said. “So we’ll have to get our team here and take a look once he arrives.” As for Porter, the end of Omaha Beach’s racing career comes as bittersweet. He has already acknowledged seller’s remorse, proclaiming he will never again part with breeding rights of a 3-year-old without retaining the right to run at 4. Then to have to scratch from the Pegasus -- some eight months after scratching as the favorite for the Kentucky Derby -- left Porter to do little but join the rest of racing world in contemplating the colt's potential. “He’s a bad-luck horse,” Porter said. “And it’s just really a shame because he was never able to show people how good he really is. Richard knows it, and [jockey] Mike Smith knows it, but the people were never able to fully see it. The good news is he’s safe. The bad news is he didn’t have a chance to show how truly special a horse he really is.” Omaha Beach, a 4-year-old son of War Front out of the Seeking the Gold mare Charming, will stand his first season for $45,000. Cunnigham noted Omaha Beach has been in high demand from breeders since his breeding rights were acquired following an Arkansas Derby (G1) win in April. “He has been oversubscribed since last spring, right after when we first announced,” Cunningham said. “He has been extremely popular.” It remains to be seen how large a book of mares is bred to Omaha Beach in his first season. Cunningham noted it will depend on how the colt takes to his new life as a stallion. “It’s too early to guess on that,” Cunningham said. “Until you test breed them, go through the process and see what kind of breeders they are you don’t know for sure. As I’m sure you could imagine, some horses take to that job quickly. Some don’t. That sort of dictates what comprises a full book” Porter said he and Spendthrift General Manager Ned Toffey recently spoke on the high quality of mares booked to Omaha Beach. “He’s so good-looking and the pedigree is terrific top and bottom,” Porter said. “Ned and I were just talking about how good this book of mares is. They are overwhelmed with people trying to breed to him.” In two seasons on the track, Omaha Beach tallied five wins while never missing the board in 10 starts. In addition to the Arkansas Derby, he also won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), Malibu Stakes (G1) and a division of the Rebel Stakes (G2). Omaha Beach retired with earnings of $1,651,800. 

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