Omaha Beach Brings Grit and Game to the Kentucky Derby



It took Omaha Beach four tries to break his maiden but he hasn’t lost since. Perhaps a nod to his historic name, Omaha Beach is mighty. Even in the toughest of battles, he refuses to be beat.


The story of Omaha Beach begins in Kentucky. His dam Charming (Seeking the Gold), a half-sister to Will Take Charge and Take Charge Indy, gave birth to him there on April 24, 2016. Omaha Beach's sire and namesake, War Front, is well known for producing top turf horses. Horses such as Rubiano, Mr. Prospector, and Native Dancer appear multiple times in his pedigree.


Omaha Beach entered the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017. Despite his good looks and strong pedigree, he did not reach his reserve price and therefore left the ring unsold. However, Fox Hill Farms were fond of the colt and privately purchased him not long after the Keeneland Sale.


Like other Fox Hill Farm horses, Omaha Beach was sent to Lynwood Stable to begin his education. When he was ready, he was sent to trainer Richard Mandella to begin his real training for a career on the racetrack.


Under the careful hand of Richard Mandella, Omaha Beach began to bloom. Assuming he would be a turf horse because of his pedigree, Omaha Beach was entered into a maiden turf race at Del Mar in September of 2018. He followed his third place finish there with two consecutive second place finishes.

Omaha Beach ended his two-year old season with a record of 3:0-2-1 on the turf. He was performing well on the turf but his connections needed to know if he could perform even better on the dirt. So, he was entered into an eight furlong maiden race on January 4, 2019.


His first try on dirt showed the true grit of Omaha Beach. Despite stumbling at the start, he battled Nolo Contesto to the wire for a second place finish. His next try on the dirt came one month later at Santa Anita. There he bounded through the slop, took the lead on the backstretch, and never looked back. He dominated the field by nine lengths.


Following this victory, Omaha Beach’s connections entered him into the Gr.2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. They had Kentucky Derby dreams in mind. Many bettors doubted his ability to beat the proven Game Winner, especially on a clear day. Omaha Beach, however, is not the type of horse to shy away from a battle. After breaking sharply from the gate, Mike Smith guided Omaha Beach to press the leaders around the first turn. Late into the backstretch Omaha Beach narrowly grabbed the lead with Game Winner breathing down his neck. The two battled down the stretch, noses apart as they crossed the wire. Omaha Beach was victorious.


The win in the Gr.2 Rebel Stakes gave Omaha Beach enough points to grab the bottom spot on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. In order to ensure a spot in the Kentucky Derby, Omaha Beach needed to finish in the top four of a final major prep race. His connections chose to put him in the Gr.1 Arkansas Derby.


Horses like Improbable, Long Range Toddy, and Country House were also entered in the Gr.1 Arkansas Derby to grab some last minute points for the Kentucky Derby. A rainy day made Omaha Beach slightly favored over Improbable.


Omaha Beach broke well and went four wide around the first turn. Off the first turn, Mike Smith allowed Omaha Beach to make a run to take the pace of the race. Once he had the lead, Omaha Beach refused to give it up. He fended off a strong Improbable to win by one length.


The win propelled Omaha Beach to the second spot on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, just behind Tacitus. Omaha Beach’s current record stands at 7:3-3-1. He has earned $1,121,800.


Mike Smith chose to ride Omaha Beach in the Kentucky Derby over Bob Baffert trainee Roadster. Omaha Beach posted his final workout in preparation for the Kentucky Derby on April 27th. He breezed 5f in 59 seconds flat, ranking 2/43 that day. It was announced on April 30th that Omaha Beach will break from post 12 and will retire to Spendthrift Farm at the end of his racing career.


Trainer Richard Mandella is 0-6 in the Kentucky Derby and many people within the racing community believe that Omaha Beach will finally be his Kentucky Derby winner. Only time will tell if he will be the one decorated with a garland of roses on the first Saturday in May.


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