HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Pegasus World Cup Invitational took two major hits Thursday, with the top choices for the race being scratched over health concerns.
Heavily favored Omaha Beach was scratched because of concerns over swelling in his right hind leg, and that means his career is now over since Saturday was going to be his final race before retiring to stud. Spun to Run, the second favorite after the post-position draw earlier this week, was pulled out earlier Thursday after his connections noticed he was warm and dealing with some soreness.
Spun to Run, the Breeders’ Cup dirt winner, had 7-2 odds after Wednesday’s draw; Omaha Beach was initially installed as the 7-5 favorite, and his odds fell to even money after Spun to Run was scratched.
“Omaha Beach’s safety and well-being comes first and we wanted to do what was best for him,” trainer Richard Mandella said in a statement distributed by Gulfstream Park, which will play host to Saturday’s Pegasus dirt and turf races. “He has been a great pleasure to have around the barn and we are grateful for the opportunity to train such a magnificent horse.”
Omaha Beach retires with five wins, four seconds and a third in 10 career starts, with $1.65 million in earnings. He was the morning-line favorite for last year’s Kentucky Derby as well, before getting scratched in the final days before the race because of a throat issue that necessitated surgery and kept him out of the entire Triple Crown series.
“We appreciate the willingness of Mr. Mandella to put the safety of Omaha Beach above all else,” said Belinda Stronach, the chairman and president of The Stronach Group — the operator of Gulfstream. “His decision was the right thing to do.”
The morning-line odds were not readjusted a second time after Omaha Beach was scratched, meaning Mucho Gusto is now the new favorite at 9-2 in a field of 10 horses that will vie for a $3 million purse in the Pegasus dirt race. Higher Power is the 6-1 second choice, followed by Tax at 8-1.
The other seven entries are listed at odds of 15-1 or longer.