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Even money favorite Omaha Beach scratches from Pegasus World Cup

Tim Layden looks back at Omaha Beach and Richard Mandela's journey from lost Kentucky Derby dreams earlier this year all the way to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup.

Heavy favorite Omaha Beach has been scratched from the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (Jan. 25, 4:30-6 p.m. ET on NBC,, NBC Sports App) “out of an abundance of caution” due to swelling in his right hind leg, Gulfstream Park announced on Thursday. Mike Smith was set to ride.

“It was observed this morning that Omaha Beach had light swelling in his right hind fetlock,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “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. 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 4-year-old colt had odds upgraded from 7/5 to an even 1/1 after Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Spun to Run scratched earlier this morning. Of the original field of 12 horses, only 10 will break from the gate on Saturday.

Omaha Beach won the Arkansas Derby last year and was the early Kentucky Derby favorite, but was scratched due to an entrapped epiglottis. After recovering from surgery, he won the Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G1) in October, took second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November and finished 2019 with a win in the G1 Malibu Stakes.

The Pegasus World Cup, which is headed by the Stronach Group, was expected to be his last race before heading to stud at Spendthrift Farm. His connections haven’t said whether he will aim for a later race. Omaha Beach is a finalist for the Eclipse Award for 3-Year-Old Male, which will be announced tonight.

“We appreciate the willingness of Mr. Mandella to put the safety of Omaha Beach above all else,” Stronach Group Chairman and President Belinda Stronach said. “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.”

The field is now wide open without Omaha Beach and Spun to Run. Bob Baffert’s Mucho Gusto now leads the field. The 4-year-old colt drew the No. 10 post position in yesterday’s draw. Mucho Gusto has five wins in 10 starts, but hasn’t won since June, when he took the Affirmed Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. Most recently, he finished fourth in the Oklahoma Derby (G3). This will be his first start at Gulfstream.

Other competitors include John Sadler’s Higher Power and Preakness runaway Bodexpress. Below are odds (which haven’t changed since Spun to Run scratched) and revised post positions for Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup.

$3 million Pegasus World Cup post positions and odds as of Jan. 23:

  1. True Timber (15-1)
  2. Tax (8-1)
  3. Diamond Oops (15-1)
  4. Seeking the Soul (30-1)
  5. Omaha Beach -- SCRATCHED
  6. Higher Power (6-1)
  7. War Story (30-1)
  8. Mr Freeze (20-1)
  9. Spun to Run -- SCRATCHED
  10. Mucho Gusto (9-2)
  11. Tenfold (30-1)
  12. Bodexpress (30-1)

Watch the Pegasus World Cup on NBC, and the NBC Sports app on Saturday, January 25 from 4:30 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET.