Omaha Beach ‘Brilliant’ In Latest Work Toward Shared Belief

by | 08.04.2019 | 4:51pm
Mike Smith breezes Omaha Beach at Del Mar on Aug. 4

Roughly 15 hours after riding McKinzie to an impressive and emotionally-charged victory in the $1 million Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, N.Y., on Saturday afternoon, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith was back at Del Mar riding workouts Sunday morning.

Work as usual, but not the usual works. During the 6 o'clock hour Smith was aboard the 2-year-old filly America's Surprise, a daughter of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and half-sister to champion Songbird for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. (More about that later).

At 7:45 Smith was up on Omaha Beach, the Arkansas Derby winner and early favorite for the Kentucky Derby before being scratched due to an entrapped epiglottis, for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.

The work basics: America's Surprise went five furlongs in 1:00.20 from the gate with the interim half-mile in :47.40; Omaha Beach went five furlongs in :59.80, covering the last quarter in 23 seconds.

Smith, who turns 54 next Saturday, was a passenger on a private jet from Saratoga, along with fellow jockey Flavien Prat, which allowed him to be back at Del Mar by around 9:30 Saturday night, get some sleep and make his early morning commitments.

“It was brilliant,” Smith said of the Omaha Beach work. “He's feeling really good and he went really well … Songbird's little sister also went really well. It's hard to be compared to your sister, like she will be, but she's nice.”

Mandella's delight with the effort of Omaha Beach, who is being targeted for a comeback in the Shared Belief Stakes on August 25, was obvious from the smile on his face. “He broke off six lengths behind my other horse (Magical Kiss) and left her behind (at the wire) by about that many,” Mandella said. “I had him galloping out (6 furlongs) in 1:12.

“I couldn't have asked for any better.”

America's Surprise is being aimed for a race here next Sunday. Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward noted of the work: “From what I've seen she's got a really smooth action – like him (American Pharoah).”

Smith's morning concluded with a work on the turf aboard Originaire (5f, 1:03.20) for trainer Jeff Mullins. Originaire provided Smith with his first of three wins at the meeting with a last-to-first burst in the seventh race on July 18, the second day of the meeting.

Smith has two mounts on today's card. He rides Express Train (5-1) for trainer John Shirreffs in the fifth and Jack Van Berg (20-1) for Mike Puhich in the sixth.

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