Omaha Beach vs. Shancelot in Epic Showdown
Photo Copyright Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
Two of the top three-year-olds in the country, Omaha Beach and Shancelot, will clash on Saturday at Santa Anita in the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1).
Omaha Beach will be making his long-awaited return to the races after being scratched as the Kentucky Derby favorite due to an entrapped epiglottis. One minor setback after another has prevented his return, but he finally has a chance to prep for the Breeders’ Cup here in this six-furlong contest. Hoping to simply outrun him is Shancelot, a wickedly fast sprinter who is three for four on his career with his lone loss coming by just a head over seven furlongs.
#2 Omaha Beach (8-5) finished second in three straight races before exploding to a nine-length score over this track in February. He upset Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champion Game Winner in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park before coming right back and winning the Arkansas Derby (G1) by a length. That set him up for a run at the Kentucky Derby, but he was scratched in the days leading up to the race.
Trainer Richard Mandella has brought him along carefully since then, opting for the perfect spot for a comeback. Omaha Beach will face stiff competition in this, but he has been working strongly with a bullet :46.3 move September 27 over four furlongs. Mike Smith will ride.
#3 Shancelot (4-5) will break alongside. The remarkably quick sprinter blazed through a maiden victory at Gulfstream Park in February, then returned at Monmouth Park in June to win against allowance company. Trainer Jorge Navarro wheeled him back against grade 2 company in the Amsterdam at Saratoga and Shancelot went on a tour de force, scoring by 12 ½ lengths in 1:14.01 for six and a half furlongs. He was heavily favored in the H Allen Jerkens (G1) August 24, but found himself tiring on a difficult rail trip and just got beat on the line by some class horses in Mind Control and Hog Creek Hustle.
Shancelot has been in California for over a week and had a local move on September 29, cruising four furlongs in :47.1, the third fastest of the day for 65 works. The son of Shanghai Bobby will try to outbreak the field and simply run them off their feet.
#4 Flagstaff (4-1) is the one with the best upset chance. The son of Speightstown is trained by John Sadler, who conditioned him to win two of his last three starts. He also has two wins in three tries over this track, with a win at the distance as well.
#1 One Flew South (30-1) takes the blinkers off for this. #5 California Street (15-1) was a winner two back, and #6 Horse Greedy (15-1), who has been top three in five of ten starts on this track, rounds out the field.
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