Omaha (horse)

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Omaha
OmahaHorseStinsonParkOmahaNE.JPG
Memorial to Omaha in Stinson Park at Aksarben Village in Omaha, Nebraska
Sire Gallant Fox
Grandsire Sir Gallahad III
Dam Flambino
Damsire Wrack
Sex Stallion
Foaled 1932
Country United States
Colour Chestnut
Breeder Claiborne Farm
Owner Belair Stud
Trainer James E. Fitzsimmons
Record 22:9-7-2
Earnings $154,755
Major wins

Arlington Classic (1935)
Dwyer Stakes (1935)

Triple Crown race wins:
Kentucky Derby (1935)
Preakness Stakes (1935)
Belmont Stakes (1935)
Awards
3rd U.S. Triple Crown Winner (1935)
U.S. Champion 3-Year-Old Male Horse (1935)
Honours
U.S. Racing Hall of Fame (1965)
#61 - Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century
Last updated on September 15th, 2006

Omaha (March 24, 1932 – April 24, 1959) was a United States Thoroughbred horse racing champion. In a racing career which lasted from 1934 through 1936 he ran twenty-two times and won nine races. He had his greatest success as a three-year-old in 1935, when he won the Triple Crown. As a four-year-old he had success running in England, and was narrowly beaten in the Ascot Gold Cup.

Background[edit]

Foaled at Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky, Omaha was a chestnut horse with a white blaze who stood 16.3 hands high.[1] He was the son of 1930 U.S. Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox and the mare Flambino. Omaha was the third horse to win the Triple Crown having won as a three-year-old in 1935. Flambino also produced the Ascot Gold Cup winner Flares and was the sister of La France, the direct female ancestor of many notable thoroughbreds including Danzig Connection, Decidedly and Johnstown.[2]

The horse was owned by and bred William Woodward, Sr.'s famous Belair Stud in Bowie, Maryland. He was trained by Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons who also trained Omaha's sire to the Triple Crown. As a yearling, Omaha was leggy and awkward-looking, but a favorite of Woodward, who reportedly considered sending the horse to England to be trained for the Epsom Derby.[3] In the event, Omaha's move to England was postponed until 1936. Omaha was ridden to his biggest wins by the Canadian jockey Smokey Saunders.

Racing career[edit]

1934: two-year-old season[edit]

In his two-year-old season, Omaha finished second in a maiden race on June 18, 1934 and won a similar event five days later. He failed to win in his remaining seven starts although he ran well in several important races. He finished fourth to Balladier in the United States Hotel Stakes behind Balladier, and fourth again behind Boxthorn in the Saratoga Special Stakes. On August 22, Omaha finished second to Psychic Bid in the Sanford Stakes[4] and third to the same horse in the Hopeful Stakes

In the Champagne Stakes on September 6 he finished second by a neck to Balladier, who set a new track record of 1:16.6 for the six and a half furlong race.[5] Ten days later, Omaha contested the season's most valuable race,[6] the Futurity at Belmont Park in which he ran fourth behind Chance Sun. On his final appearance he finished second in the Junior Champion Stakes over one mile, beaten a nose by Sailor Beware in a race record time of 1:36.6.[7]

1935: three-year-old season[edit]

During the winter, the horse filled out and began to look like a champion. Omaha began his three-year-old season by winning an allowance race at Aqueduct Race Track. In the Wood Memorial Stakes, Omaha ran third to Today and Plat Eye after finishing "like a runaway train".[8]

Omaha started second favorite for the Kentucky Derby, with his supporters including Damon Runyon, who tipped the colt despite describing him as "a big, leggy, green thing that seems to invariably get into a lot of trouble".[9] Despite cold weather and heavy rain the race attracted a crowd of 50,000 to Churchill Downs and the filly Nellie Flag was made favorite. Saunders kept Omaha clear of early trouble before moving the colt into the lead in the backstretch.[10] Omaha was never seriously challenged and won by a length and a half from Roman Soldier without Saunders ever having to use his whip.[11] Whiskolo finished third ahead of Nellie Flag and Blackbirder.

A week after his Derby win, Omaha was made odds-on favorite for the Preakness Stakes in front of a record crowd of 40,000 at Pimlico Race Course. He caught the front-running Brannon on the turn out of the backstretch and drew clear to win by six lengths from Firethorn, with Psychic Bid a further six lengths back in third.[12] Omaha refused to stand still for the post-race ceremonies, meaning that Saunders had to collect the presentational rose wreath "on the fly".[13]

Omaha was brought back in distance for the Withers Stakes over one mile on May 27. He was made 1/2 favorite, but despite finishing strongly he failed to catch Rosemont and was beaten one and a half lengths.[14] In the Belmont Stakes over one and a half miles on June 8, Omaha started 7/10 favorite over Rosemont and Firethorn. Racing on a sloppy track, Omaha was towards the rear in the early stages, and entered the stretch covered in mud. He then produced "one of his famous stretch drives" to win by a length and a half from Firethorn, with a further eight lengths back to Rosemont in third.[15]

Two weeks after his Belmont Stakes win, Omaha took on older horses for the first time in the Brooklyn Handicap. He was no match for the four-year-old Discovery who won by six lengths from King Saxon in record time of 1:48.2 for nine furlongs. Omaha was a further four lengths back in third.[16] A week later, Omaha returned to his own age group for the Dwyer Stakes. Ridden by Wayne Wright he defeated the CCA Oaks winner Good Gamble by one and a half lengths.[17] On July 21 Omaha started 2/5 favorite for the Arlington Classic in front of a crowd of 40,000 in Chicago. He took his winnings for the season to $142,225 by winning in track record time from St Bernard, Bloodroot and Black Helen.[18] He was reported to be lame in August and missed the rest of the season although the exact nature of his injury was never fully explained.[19]

There were no formal "Horse of the Year" awards in 1935, but Omaha was recognised as the champion three-year-old colt in the United States. Discovery, however, was regarded as the year's outstanding horse.[20]

1936: four-year-old season[edit]

In January 1936, Omaha was moved to Aqueduct racecourse, where he was exercised under the supervision of the British trainer Cecil Boyd-Rochfort.[19] He was then loaded aboard the RMS Aquitania and shipped to England to enter Boyd-Rochfort's Newmarket stable. His principal objective was the Ascot Gold Cup, which no American horse had won since Foxhall's triumph in 1882.

On May 9, he made his British debut in the Victor Wild Stakes over one and a half miles at Kempton Park Racecourse, where he was ridden by his new jockey Pat Beasley. Racing on turf and on a right-handed track for the first time, Omaha accelerated past his opponents half a mile from the finish and won "impressively"[21] by one and a half lengths from Montrose. Four weeks later he returned to the same course for the Queen's Plate over two miles. He took the lead in the straight and won from Lord Derby's colt Bobsleigh in what was described as a "thrilling" finish.[22]

At Royal Ascot on June 18, Omaha contested the two and a half mile Ascot Gold Cup. He started favorite at odds of 11/8 against eight opponents, with his biggest danger appearing to be Quashed, a non-Thoroughbred filly who had won the Epsom Oaks in 1935.[23] Before the race, which attracted a crowd estimated at 150,000, the American colt appeared agitated and almost unseated Beasley on several occasions.[24] Omaha was restrained by Beasley in the early stages before moving up to challenge Quashed for the lead just before the right-hand turn into the straight. The filly and the colt raced together throughout the closing stages, drawing well clear of the remaining runners. A furlong from the finish, Omaha drew level and looked the likely winner, but Quashed rallied in the final strides and was awarded the victory by a short head.[25] Many years later, the 1936 Gold Cup was described by the The Observer as the greatest race of all time.[26] In his only subsequent race in England, he ran second by a neck to Taj Akbar in the one and a half mile Princess of Wales's Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse in July. In this race, Omaha carried 138 pounds, eighteen pounds more than the winner, a three-year-old who had finished second to Mahmoud in the Epsom Derby.[27]

Omaha remained in training with Boyd-Rochfort and was aimed at the 1937 Ascot Gold Cup.[28] He was found to be lame shortly before the race and never ran again.[29]

Stud career[edit]

Retired to stand at stud at Claiborne Farm, he failed to perform satisfactorily and in 1943 was turned over to the Jockey Club's Breeding Bureau, which sent him north to a stud farm in New York State where he remained for seven years. He was then moved west in 1950 to Nebraska, where he lived out the last nine years of his life on a farm near Nebraska City, about 45 miles (72 km) south of the city of Omaha. During the 1950s, the Triple Crown winner was taken to the Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in Omaha, where he appeared in the winner's circle.[30]

When Omaha died in 1959 at the age of 27, he was buried at the Ak-Sar-Ben Racetrack.[1]

Omaha was not considered a successful sire with the best of his progeny being the Bing Crosby Handicap winner Prevaricator and the Louisiana Handicap winner South Dakota. His more remote descendants included Nijinsky II and three Kentucky Derby winners.

In 1965, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.[1] In The Blood-Horse ranking of the top 100 thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Omaha was ranked #61.

Pedigree[edit]

Pedigree of Omaha (USA), chestnut stallion 1932[31]
Sire
Gallant Fox
Sir Gallahad Teddy Ajax
Rondeau
Plucky Liege Spearmint
Concertina
Marguerite Celt Commando
Maid of Erin
Fairy Ray Radium
Seraph
Dam
Flambino
Wrack Robert Le Diable Ayrshire
Rose Bay
Samphire Isinglass
Chelandry
Flambette Durbar Rabelais
Armenia
La Flambee Ajax
Medeah (Family 17-b)[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Omaha, Hall of Fame profile". Racingmuseum.org. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  2. ^ a b "Biddy - Family 17-b". Bloodlines.net. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  3. ^ "Owner wanted Omaha to run in England". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 13, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  4. ^ "Psychic Bid first in Sanford Stakes". Montreal Gazette. August 23, 1934. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  5. ^ "Balladier wins in Champagne Stakes". Montreal Gazette. September 7, 1934. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  6. ^ "Chance Sun, 8-1, triumphs in rich Belmont Futurity". Montreal Gazette. September 17, 1934. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  7. ^ "Junior Champion to Sailor Beware". Montreal Gazette. October 1, 1934. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  8. ^ "Today, Derby entry, wins $11,000 purse". Milwaukee Journal. 28 April 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  9. ^ "Omaha, Today, in two-horse Derby battle". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 1, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  10. ^ "Omaha gallops to smashing win". May 5, 1935. Portsmouth Times. Retrieved 2012-07-06.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ "Finish of sensational Kentucky Derby". Spokane Daily Chronicle. May 6, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  12. ^ "Omaha pounds home first in Preakness". Herald-Journal. May 12, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  13. ^ "Omaha duplicates Derby victory in Preakness". Lawrence Journal-World. May 14, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  14. ^ "Omaha suffer first setback". Calgary Daily Herald. May 27, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  15. ^ "Omaha wins Belmont stake and equals feat of sire". Reading Eagle. June 9, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  16. ^ "Discovery surprises with victory over King Saxon, Omaha". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. June 24, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  17. ^ "Omaha adds new glory". Tuscaloosa News. June 30, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  18. ^ "Omaha wins Arlington Classic, sets record". Milwaukee Journal. July 21, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  19. ^ a b "Woodward to ship Omaha to England". Montreal Gazette. January 3, 1936. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  20. ^ "Discovery and Omaha make turf history". Evening Independent. December 30, 1935. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  21. ^ "Omaha trims English field". Reading Eagle. May 9, 1936. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  22. ^ "Omaha gallops to sensational British victory". St. Petersburg Times. May 31, 1936. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  23. ^ "American horse is beaten in Ascot Cup race". Daily Telegraph. June 18, 1936. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  24. ^ "Omaha defeated in Ascot by stout-hearted filly". Middlesboro Daily News. June 19, 1936. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  25. ^ "American ace loses bitter stretch duel". Miami News. June 18, 1936. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  26. ^ "The 10 greatest horse races of all time | Sport | The Observer". Observer.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-06-21. 
  27. ^ Associated, The (1936-07-03). "Woodward's Omaha Loses by Neck To Taj Akbar". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  28. ^ "Omaha will try again". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. April 13, 1937. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  29. ^ "Quashed favored in Ascot race". St. Petersburg Times. June 17, 1937. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  30. ^ Jim Bolus (1998-10-31). Derby Magic. Pelican Publishing Company Inc. p. 144. ISBN 9781455603497. Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  31. ^ "Omaha pedigree". equineline.com. 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-07-06.