First-crop sires: Omaha Beach’s unbeaten Kopion on Kentucky Oaks trail

January 16th, 2024

Omaha Beach ranked first among North American freshman sires, not by the official standard of progeny earnings in 2023, but by another metric that’s arguably more significant for his stud career: the number of stakes performers.

The son of War Front furnished 11 black-type horses (two stakes winners and nine stakes-placed juveniles) through the end of the year. That exceeds the number of black-type performers sired by the three stallions ahead of him on the earnings list – champion freshman Mitole (seven), runner-up Maximus Mischief (six), and third-placer Vino Rosso (nine), all his confreres at Spendthrift Farm.

Moreover, Omaha Beach outstripped them despite the fact that they had significantly more runners. While Mitole and Maximus Mischief each had 83 starters in 2023, and Vino Rosso sent out 92 juveniles, Omaha Beach had just 64 go to bat for him.

Thus Omaha Beach registered a healthy 17.2% ratio of black-type horses to runners. To put his stat in a wider international context, he sired more stakes performers than European freshman sensation Blue Point (who had nine, from 113 starters). The only European to equal Omaha Beach’s tally of 11 was Ten Sovereigns, whose 79 starters give him a slightly lower ratio of 13.9%.

Omaha Beach recorded numbers 10 and 11 over New Year’s Eve weekend, reiterating his surface versatility. In the Dec. 29 Eddie Logan S. on the Santa Anita turf, Charge for Gold tried to steal it on the front end and held second. At Oaklawn Park on Dec. 31, Neom Beach took up a pace-pressing role before tiring to third in the Year’s End S

But the proverbial cherry on top is that the 2023 number doesn’t even reflect Omaha Beach’s most exciting stakes horse so far. On Jan. 7, Spendthrift’s Kopion stamped herself as a graded stakes star in the Santa Ynez (G3), thereby becoming number 12.

Kopion on Kentucky Oaks trail

After her dominant premiere at Del Mar, Kopion was just as emphatic as the 1-5 favorite in the Santa Ynez. The Richard Mandella trainee outclassed them in a different manner this time, going straight to the lead and coasting by 5 3/4 lengths. Jockey Flavien Prat only had to correct her from overreacting once she spied the chute’s linking up with the main circuit; otherwise, he had an armchair ride.

Kopion covered seven furlongs in 1:23.89 to remain perfect from two starts, and she banked 10 points toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1). Considering that Mandella trained her sire, who scratched as the 2019 Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite, what a storyline it would be if he wins the Oaks with an Omaha Beach filly. 

“I love (Omaha Beach),” Mandella said in his post-Santa Ynez interview. “He was such a class horse, a good horse, and this filly has just been a star ever since she came back.”

Mandella added that Kopion’s only subpar works came versus Spendthrift stablemate Tamara, the now-sidelined daughter of Hall of Famer Beholder. In her absence, Kopion is grabbing the spotlight and looking to stretch out in the Feb. 4 Las Virgenes (G3), according to Daily Racing Form.

Regulatory Risk, Time for Truth bring up total of 24 juvenile winners

Regulatory Risk could emerge as an Oaks prep candidate on the East Coast, given her high-profile connections of Klaravich Stables and trainer Chad Brown. The better half of the favored entry in a Dec. 30 maiden at Aqueduct, the 3-2 shot set the pace and kept on stoutly to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:37.14 for the muddy mile.

Although Regulatory Risk took three starts to break her maiden, this was her first opportunity beyond a sprint. She was coming off a distant second to Tarifa at Keeneland Oct. 25, a marked improvement on her debut eighth at Churchill Downs Sept. 16. 

Regulatory Risk, a $235,000 Keeneland September yearling, preserved her dam’s perfect record as a broodmare. She’s out of the Candy Ride mare Walkwithapurpose, whose seven foals have all won, including stakes scorer Where Paradise Lay and stakes-placed Whispering Pines. Her family is especially current through multiple stakes-winning Louisiana-bred (and Grade 3-placed) Ova Charged.

Walkwithapurpose was herself a three-time stakes winner at Laurel, as well as the third-placer in the 2013 Gazelle (G2). Is it too ambitious to imagine that Regulatory Risk might enter Gazelle calculations this spring?

Time for Truth closed the books on Omaha Beach’s juvenile winners with his successful six-furlong debut at Oaklawn Park Dec. 31. Flashing speed to mix it up in the pace scrum, the Ron Moquett trainee put his initial rivals away, then rebuffed a new challenge into the stretch. Time for Truth edged 1 3/4 lengths clear in 1:10.52 with Rafael Bejarano.

Purchased for $47,000 as an OBS April juvenile, Time for Truth was produced by the Lookin at Lucky mare Shape Shifter. His dam is herself a half to stakes winner Strongconstitution, runner-up in Grade/Group 3 events in the U.S. and Dubai. 

Elegant made it 25 winners on New Year’s Day at Santa Anita. Out of a Pulpit mare from the family of Preakness (G1) hero National Treasure, she is also his stablemate in the Bob Baffert barn. The Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds homebred was unplaced in her first three starts on dirt, but proved a totally different animal in this turf debut going six furlongs. Elegant stalked and pounced to win readily for Juan Hernandez, crossing the wire with a comfortable 1 3/4 lengths to spare in 1:09.54. 

Stud fee increased to $40,000

Since Omaha Beach didn’t even break his maiden until his fifth try, on Feb. 2, 2019, it’s an encouraging sign that his juveniles represented him well. The best is likely still to come as his progeny mature.

As an indication of how bullish the bloodstock industry remains on Omaha Beach’s long-term prospects, Spendthrift increased his stud fee to $40,000 (from $30,000) in 2024. Omaha Beach is still the most expensive of the quartet who led the 2023 freshman sires list, compared to barnmates Mitole (unchanged at $15,000), Maximus Mischief (more than tripled to $25,000), and Vino Rosso (bumped up to $25,000). 

The market already embraced the $40,000 fee, for Omaha Beach is booked full.