The envelope, please . . .
(Dramatic pause for suspense . . .)
“And the winner is, the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile!”
So said Richard Mandella at 10 a.m. Thursday regarding the $1 million Breeders' Cup race in which Omaha Beach will run at Santa Anita on Nov. 2, after days of contemplation, speculation and deliberation by those with more than a passing interest in the three-year-old colt, primary among them Mandella, owner Rick Porter and regular rider Mike Smith.
“We put our heads together and that's the decision,” said Mandella, whose Breeders' Cup options for the son of War Front also were the $2 million Sprint at six furlongs and the $6 million Classic at a mile and a quarter, both also on Nov. 2.
With the likes of Catalina Cruiser, Mitole, Coal Front, Mr. Money and Improbable set for the Dirt Mile, anticipation is bound to increase precipitously for what now looms a major headliner on the championship program, which Santa Anita hosts for a record 10th time.
Omaha Beach made a dramatic and successful return to the races on Oct. 5 after an absence of six months, winning the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship at six furlongs over odds-on favorite Shancelot, powering through on the rail to win by a head.
The pre-race choice for the Kentucky Derby on May 4 won the SA Sprint Championship after a myriad of aborted return attempts that kept him absent from the races since April 13, when he won the Grade I Arkansas Derby on a sloppy track.
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