Omaha Beach installed as big favorite in the Pegasus

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Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of the Stronach Group, speaks during the draw for the Pegasus World Cup Horse Race, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The race will run Saturday, Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Omaha Beach has been installed as the favorite for Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, the final race of his career.

The 4-year-old who was the morning line favorite for the Kentucky Derby last season but had to miss the entire Triple Crown series after throat surgery will be retired to stud after the Pegasus, and his finale could be lucrative. Omaha Beach has already earned about $1.6 million and could more than double that if he wins Gulfstream Park’s biggest race.

He’s been at Gulfstream for about a month, getting used to the surroundings.

“He’s settled in nice,” trainer Richard Mandella said. “He’s had plenty of time. We’re kind of getting bored from walking around back there. It’s time to get serious.”

Mike Smith will ride Omaha Beach, the 7-5 morning line favorite for the Pegasus — to be run this year for the first time under a no-medication rule. Spun To Run is the 7-2 second choice, followed by Mucho Gusto at 9-2 and Higher Power at 6-1.

It’ll be a full field of 12 for the Pegasus, as well as 12 in the field for the $1 million Pegasus Turf that will also be held Saturday at Gulfstream. Magic Wand — a 5-year-old mare who’ll be racing against males — is the 7-2 favorite there, even after drawing the farthest outside post.

Magic Wand was second in last year’s inaugural running of the Pegasus turf, losing to Bricks and Mortar — the favorite to win Horse of the Year honors when the Eclipse Awards are handed out at Gulfstream on Thursday night.

The Pegasus races will require horses to be medication-free on race day for the first time and will have substantially reduced purses from the previous three editions of the event.