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Jockey Mike Smith wins record 217th Grade 1 race


ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — Omaha Beach won the $300,000 Malibu Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths on opening day at Santa Anita, giving Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith a record 217th Grade 1 victory.

Smith surpassed the mark set by retired Hall of Famer Jerry Bailey to become thoroughbred racing’s all-time Grade 1 stakes-winning jockey.

“Jerry is someone that comes from my hometown,” Smith said. “I was born in New Mexico, but raised in Texas, in El Paso, where he’s from. His father was my dentist, so he’s always meant a lot to me, so to surpass him means a whole lot.”

Smith won four stakes on Saturday’s card.

Omaha Beach was forced to miss this year’s Kentucky Derby because of entrapped epiglottis. The colt is set to be retired after next month’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup in Florida.

Omaha Beach ran seven furlongs in 1:22.33 in front of 35,085 fans. Santa Anita had pushed opening day of its winter-spring meet back two days because of concern about rain in the forecast. There have been 37 horse deaths at the track since last December.

“This is really special for us, opening day at Santa Anita,” Omaha Beach’s trainer Richard Mandella said. “After all the trouble we have been through this year, this place is The Great Race Place and we all need to remember that.”

Sent off as the 2-5 favorite in the field of five 3-year-olds, Omaha Beach returned $2.80, $2.10 and $2.10.

Omaha Beach has five of his last six starts, including three Grade 1 wins. The victory, worth $180,000, increased his career earnings to $1,651,800, with five wins in 10 career starts.

“He was supposed to run like this,” Mandella said. “I can’t think of one better. The few times he ever got beat were my fault.”

Omaha Beach was coming off a second-place finish as the even-money favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita last month.

Roadster, winner of this year’s Santa Anita Derby, rallied to finish second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of longshot Manny Wah.