With the 2016 “EQUINICS”, honoring the memory of those who have passed. The MINNESOTA-TESTBARN RESIDENCY, chose to honor the great horse “OMAHA” and decided to name their sponsered race, for him. For those of you not familiar with this horse racing legend….
OMAHA, was a chestnut horse with a white blaze, who stood 16.3 hands high(big by any standard). Born at Claiborne farms in 1932, the long-legged, but awkward-looking son of the Mighty GALLANT FOX(1930 TRIPLE CROWN WINNER), was a favorite of owner William Woodward Sr.(Belair Stud), who reportedly considered sending him to England to prep for the Epsom Derby. Instead he was sent to leading American trainer, “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons(of Seabiscuit fame).
As a 2yo, Omaha broke he’s maiden in his 2nd start, then went on to run well in several important races, including the United States Hotel Stakes, the Saratoga Special, the Sanford, Champagne, Hopeful, the Futurity at Belmont and finished out the year in the Junior Champion Stakes.
His 3yo season started with a allowance win at Aqueduct and a fast closing 3rd in the Wood Memorial. Then it was on to Kentucky, where he was Ridden by Canadian jockey “Smokey” Saunders and started 2nd choice in the Kentucky Derby. Despite the cold-weather and heavy rain, he took the lead down the backstretch and was never threatened, to win by a length. A week later he was odds- on to win the Preakness, in front of a record breaking crowd of 40,000 at Pimlico. Again catching the leaders on the backstretch and drawing away to win by six length. He next ran 2nd in th Withers Stakes, before starting June 8th as the 7/10 favorite in the Belmont Stakes. Where in the slop, in came from off the pace to draw off by 1 1/2 lengths over Firethorn and Rosemont. Two weeks later he lined up against older horses for the first time in the Brooklyn Handicap, where he ran 3rd, beaten 10 lengths, by Discovery and King Saxon. A week later he returned to the 3yo ranks for the Dwyer Stakes and won easily. Then on July 21st he started as the 2/5 favorite in the Arlington Classic, which he won. Bringing his season winnings to $142,225. In August he was reported lame and missed the rest of the season.
At 4, he was finally shipped to England and pointed towards the Ascot Gold Cup. In his first race ever on the turf and on a right-handed track, he won the 1 1/2 miles Victor Wild Stakes impressively. Four weeks later he returned to win the 2 mile Queen’s Plate. Then on June 18th he started as the 11/8 favorite in the Ascot Gold Cup, only to be beaten by a head in the final strides. In what turned out to be the final race of his career, The Princess of Wales Stakes in ran 2nd, spotting the winner 18 pounds.
He retired to stud at Claiborne Farms, but preformed unsatisfactorily and was given to the Jockey Clubs Breeding Bureau.
Regardless of his Non-Stud Career, Omaha was a real life “Iron Horse” of the 30's and a true Champion! Who won races from 6f-16f, on both turf and dirt including 1935's Triple Crown.
One of my Horse Heroes!