UPDATED (Jan. 23 – 4 pm ET) – The Pegasus World Cup Invitational saw both morning-line favorite Omaha Beach and second choice Spun to Run get scratched on Thursday.
A skin irritation will sideline Spun to Run, while Omaha Beach trainer Richard Mandella said there was swelling identified in his right hind leg.
“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 said in a statement. “He has been a great pleasure to have around the barn and we are grateful for the opportunity to train such a magnificent horse.”
In what’s expected to be his final race, Omaha Beach drew the fifth post in Wednesday’s post position draw for Saturday’s Grade I Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
Oddsmakers made him the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the field of 12 in the 1-1/8-mile race for 4-year-olds and up. With a $3 million purse, the winner gets $
The Richard Mandella-trained horse has not finished out of the money in 10 career starts, and is coming off a dominating run in the seven-furlong Malibu Stakes on Dec. 28 at Santa Anita Park. He took the lead on the final turn and pulled away down the stretch to a nearly three-length win, his fifth in seven 2019 starts.
Last year, Omaha Beach won four graded stakes races as a 3-year-old. They were at six furlongs, seven furlongs, 1-1/16-miles, and 1-1/8-miles. A throat ailment kept him from a possible shot at winning the 1-1/4-mile Kentucky Derby in May, where he was the morning-line favorite.
“I thought he was a Triple Crown winner,” Mandella said. “I can say that now, anybody can. But he was a big healthy horse – except for that throat. I really thought he was strong enough to [win the Kentucky Derby] and healthy and strong enough to continue on, which is the difference between a horse winning the Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown.”
Mike Smith will ride Omaha Beach.
His top challengers are likely Spun to Run, with morning-line odds of 7-2, and Mucho Gusto, who starts off with 9-2 odds. They will break from the ninth and 10th posts, respectively.
This year’s Pegasus World Cup races will run medication-free, a move Gulfstream-owner The Stronach Group didn’t announce until last month.
During Wednesday’s event, TSG President Belinda Stronach apologized for the sudden move.
I have to first thank the owners and the trainers for running with us,” she said. “I owe everyone a bit of an apology, because we announced that Pegasus would be medication-free quite late, and that was not our intention to do so. But as we always think about how we can evolve and create new opportunities for horsemen, and pointing to the future with respect to medication-free races, we put our heads together and said this is the year we wish to do it.”
Starting next year, stakes races will require horses to run without medication, including Lasix, which trainers apply on race-day to help control bleeding issues. It’s a step major racetracks have agreed to take in the wake of the high number of equine deaths over the last 13 months at Santa Anita, another TSG facility. However, some oppose the move, saying that medications like Lasix help prevent – not cause – injuries and fatalities.
Irish Mare Favored in Turf Race
In the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, Irish-bred Magic Wand has to start from the outside in the field of 12. But the lone mare going up against horses and geldings is still a 7-2 favorite despite drawing the far post.
She ran second to Bricks and Mortar in last year’s World Cup Turf and finished second again to the likely Horse of the Year winner when they faced-off in the Arlington Million in August.
Ryan Moore gets the ride on the Aidan O’Brien-trained entry.
The second choice on the morning line is British-bred Without Parole. Trained by Chad Brown, the 5-year-old horse made his American debut in November’s Breeders” Cup, where he finished third in the Mile. Brown trained last year’s winner Bricks and Mortar and is consider among the top turf horse trainers.
Ridden by Lanfranco Dettori, Without Parole will start from the third post with morning-line odds of 4-1.