Heavy favorite Omaha Beach has been scratched from this weekend's Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational after trainer Richard Mandella was alerted Thursday morning to slight swelling in the colt's right hind fetlock. Radiographs, which were reviewed by Dr. Larry Bramlage, revealed Omaha Beach had a small spot in his cannon bone that could signal the beginnings of a fracture.
“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,” trainer Richard Mandella told the Gulfstream Park media office. “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 Pegasus World Cup Invitational will now have 10 starters.
Fox Hill Farm's Rick Porter was incredibly disappointed by the news, but said he was grateful the problem was detected before it created a serious injury on the track. Per Porter's contract with Spendthrift Farm, Omaha Beach will now be retired to begin stud duty in Kentucky.
“It's just one of those things in horse racing,” Porter said. “You get a good horse and it's hard to do and then the problem is, this kind of thing always seems to happen to the good ones.”
Omaha Beach missed this year's Kentucky Derby, where he was heavily favored, with an entrapped epiglottis days before the race.
Porter said he was fielding calls Thursday from Mandella, jockey Mike Smith, and friends and family, all of whom were crushed by the news.
“We're all so attached to this horse,” Porter said. “His personality and his talent and his bad luck, his underdog luck. So we all sort of put our tears together and helped each other try to get through it. All i can think of is, this is a lot better than watching him break down in the race and go out that way. That's the main thing that's keeping us going — it got picked up.
“I'd rather scratch than take any slight chance.”
The Stronach Group was quick to praise the Omaha Beach team's cautious attitude.
“We appreciate the willingness of Mr. Mandella to put the safety of Omaha Beach above all else,” said Belinda Stronach, Chairman and President, The Stronach Group. “His decision was the right thing to do and reflects the new standard of care set for this year's Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series.”
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