The 2019 Kentucky Derby favorite Omaha Beach received a fresh patch Sunday morning on a lingering quarter crack on his left-front, trainer Richard Mandella said, that formed coming out of the colt’s Feb. 2 maiden win at Santa Anita Park.
Since then, the son of War Front has won both the Rebel Stakes (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1).
“Now it’s a little over two months old, that patch,” Mandella said at Churchill Downs. “So I brought my blacksmith, Ben Craft, here from California.”
Craft, who also did the original work on Omaha Beach’s quarter crack patch, called this “routine maintenance.” The colt received new shoes Sunday as well. Now, “We’re ready to go,” Mandella said.
“…But it doesn’t mean I won’t worry,” he added. “We’ve got plenty to worry about. That particular thing’s an old issue, but as you understand, if you crack your fingernail near the cuticle, it’s going to be a long time before it’s grown down and cut out. You’ve got to stay with it and not let it become a problem again.”
After missing a day of training Saturday — a combination of the crack and a sloppy track — Omaha Beach returned to the track with mile gallop Sunday on a foggy morning under the Twin Spires. Mandella said the Fox Hill Farms colt will work once before the first Saturday in May.
Mandella, the Hall of Famer, is scheduled to make Omaha Beach his first Kentucky Derby starter in 15 years.
“I’m not used to having such a good 3-year-old at this time of year,” he said. “But I’m due. I’ve been doing this a long time. But I’m very fortunate to have a horse like Omaha Beach.
“He’s a very gifted horse — a great personality — the kind you’d like to jus take home and sit by your couch at night.”
Omaha Beach began his career on turf, placing in all three of his starts at age 2. In his sophomore debut, the colt suffered a narrow loss on Jan. 4 before returning a nine-length maiden special weight winner over the Santa Anita slop.
Due to the quarter crack, Mandella opted to take an extra week between races and point to the Rebel rather than stay in California for the San Felipe (G2), a race that was ultimately canceled anyway as Santa Anita Park addressed track safety issues in March.