Omaha Beach beats Game Winner in Rebel 2nd division
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — Omaha Beach edged 1-2 favorite Game Winner on Saturday in the second division of the $750,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn after Long Range Toddy staged a neck upset in the first division.
Ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Omaha Beach ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.42. The colt earned 37.5 points toward qualifying for the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field.
Trained by Richard Mandella, Omaha Beach pressed the pace, took the lead into the turn and narrowly held off Game Winner.
Trainer Bob Baffert had his two previously undefeated colts — Game Winner and Improbable — finish second in each division.
Game Winner was making his first start since Nov. 3 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
In the first division, Long Range Toddy upset Improbable by a neck.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Long Range Toddy ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.49 and paid $18.80, $4.20 and $2.60. The colt earned 37.5 points toward qualifying for the Kentucky Derby.
Improbable returned $2.40 and $2.10 coming off a three-month layoff for Baffert. The previously undefeated colt earned 15 Derby qualifying points.
Galilean paid $2.40 to show and earned 7.5 Derby qualifying points. Extra Hope finished fourth and earned 3.75 qualifying points.
Improbable, Galilean and Extra Hope shipped in from California, where Santa Anita has been closed in the wake of 22 horse deaths since Dec. 26. Improbable had been set to run in the San Felipe on Saturday at his home track.
Under Drayden Van Dyke, Improbable was forced four-wide around both turns but was in the lead until being tracked down by Jon Court and Long Range Toddy.
“Jon gave him a beautiful trip today and I love how he earned it late,” Asmussen said. “You could tell coming into the stretch he was loaded. He waited until they all lined out, didn’t waste any ground and wheeled him out late like he should, and got rewarded for it.”
The Rebel was divided into two divisions after 19 horses were entered. The split meant the Grade 2 race, originally worth $1 million, had its overall purse increased by $500,000. Each division was worth $750,000.