US Horse Racing News

The Sun Sets on Omaha Beach

The Pegasus World Cup was held last week at Gulfstream without Omaha Beach contending after it was reported the heavy favorite showed swelling in his right hind fetlock (ankle) and was scratched by trainer Richard Mandella, who stated, “While we are disappointed to have to miss the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, Omaha Beach’s safety and well-being comes first and we wanted to do what was best for him. He has been a great pleasure to have around the barn and we are grateful for the opportunity to train such a magnificent horse.”

The dark bay colt began to catch fire in 2019 by winning the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn in March followed by a Grade I victory at the Arkansas Derby in April despite an inside post position on a sloppy track. Hopes were then sky-high that Omaha Beach would become only the second Arkansas Derby champion to win the Triple Crown, a feat that had only been accomplished by American Pharoah back in 2015.

However, those dreams were shattered when it was discovered that he had an entrapped epiglottis which affected his air passages and ability to breathe. Omaha Beach was scratched from the Kentucky Derby and the remaining Triple Crown races but returned to the oval in October when he was entered into a shorter distance, six-furlong, race where he claimed the Santa Anita Sprint by a head over the heavily favored Shancelot.

He followed that up by taking second to Spun to Run at the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile but the unexpected end of his illustrious career came when he breezed to an effortless victory over seven furlongs in the Malibu Stakes in December which could be wagered on at some of the best online sportsbooks. The Fox Hill Farms’ superstar won five of his last six starts with career earnings north of $1.6 million. He will be put out to stud in Kentucky, closing the curtain on an illustrious career which could have been legendary had he been successful in the Triple Crown.

 

Mucho Gusto Earns Mucho Dinero

Bob Baffert’s Mucho Gusto was much the better in a field of 10 at the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park last week and within a minute 48 seconds, the chestnut colt more than doubled his career earnings by taking home a $1.8 million share of the $3 million purse. The field was whittled from a dozen to a dime after Omaha Beach and Spun to Run, the early favorites, were scratched.

In a twist of fate, or more accurately, a wise choice, jockey Irad Ortiz Jr switched mounts and decided to ride Mucho Gusto over Spun to Run a week before the race. Subsequently, Spun to Run was scratched and the rest, as they say, is history. It was an impressive victory for Mucho Gusto as he took control at the top of the stretch and outlasted Mr. Freeze by nearly five lengths. The payoffs at many of the top-notch sports betting sites were as follows: Mucho Gusto returned $8.80, $5 and $3,80 while Mr. Freeze paid $7.60 and $5.20 for place and show with War Story earning $6.80 to show for his backers.

pegasus world cup logoThe Pegasus this year was different in that it introduced no-race-day-medication rules which essentially means whatever approved medication is being given to the horses is not allowed on race day. It signals a sea change in the industry and one that has been embraced by The Stronach Group, the organization that runs Gulfstream. The chairman and president, Belinda Stronach, commented on the rule change, “Let’s really create an opportunity for those horsemen and trainers that would like to run medication-free and under the international standards, and really create an invitational that invites some of the best horses and trainers to be able to do so.”

On the same racing card, Zulu Alpha caught Magic Wand in the $1 million Pegasus Turf and rewarded all those who backed the 11-1 shot with payouts of $25.60, $11.40 and $7.60 and second-place Magic Wand returned $5.40 and $3.80 while Instilled Regard paid $6.60 to show. Tyler Gaffalione was aboard the relative longshot and remarked after the race, I’m thrilled. I’m on Cloud Nine right now.” The 1:51.60 winning trip bumped Zulu Alpha’s career earnings to nearly $2 million.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 17-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He cashed on the 2018 NHC Tour with a 19th overall finish. Rich was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with Brisnet.com, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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