Omaha stands alone in the annals of Thoroughbred racing, the only Triple Crown winner sired by a Triple Crown winner.
With a striking blaze down his handsome chestnut face, Omaha also inherited his famous father’s tall, leggy frame and penchant for speed. Omaha was bred and raced by William Woodward, Sr., he became America’s third Triple Crown winner, in U.S. history, when he achieved the feat in 1935. A son of 1930 Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox, also bred and owned by Woodward, Omaha was owned by Belair Stud and trained by Hall of Famer James “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons.
Thoroughbred racehorse Omaha was foaled on March 24, 1932. His Hall of Fame career began in 1934 as a two-year-old, but it didn’t involve a whole lot of winning, or any winning at all for that matter. The son of Gallant Fox, who won the Triple Crown himself in 1930, went winless in his first six starts, albeit he finished in the top three of each race. He broke his maiden in the 1935 Dwyer Stakes as a three-year-old, his last race prior to the start of his Triple Crown-winning streak. He would win the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes by a combined nine lengths.
The Kentucky Derby
Gallant Fox’s famous son was the first Triple Crown winner to employ deep closing tactics in the Kentucky Derby. Benefiting from stiff fractions (:23: 47 3/5, 1:13 2/5) that tired out the leaders, Omaha produced a strong rally around the far turn to seize command and gallop to a deceptively easy 1 1/2-length triumph. His final time of 2:05 was respectable over a good track.
The Preakness Stakes
It can be difficult to employ late-running tactics in large fields, but Omaha made that task look easy in the 45th Preakness Stakes. Reserved in sixth place while racing outside his rivals, Omaha rallied powerfully on the far turn to seize the lead, after which he drew off with confidence to dominate by six lengths. Even without being asked for his best, Omaha stopped the timer in 1:58 2/5.
The Belmont Stakes
The key to Omaha’s triumph in the 67th Belmont Stakes was patience. Facing just four rivals, the 4-5 favorite waited in mid-pack until the homestretch approached. Then, with a decisive burst of speed over a sloppy track, Omaha ran down the pace-tracking Firethorn (through a:12 3/5 final furlong, no less) to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 2:30 3/5.
For winning the Triple Crown, Omaha was deemed the unofficial U.S. Champion three-year-old Male Horse of 1935, while Discovery was crowned as the most outstanding horse of the year. Following his triumphant three-year-old campaign, Omaha was sent to England in 1936, with the primary objective of becoming the first U.S. racehorse to win the Ascot Gold Cup since Foxhall accomplished the feat in 1882.
He triumphed in the Victor Wild Stakes and the Queen’s Plate at Kempton Park. But while tabbed as the pre-race favorite at 11/8 odds in a nine-horse field, Omaha would fall short of his objective, finishing second to winner Quashed by a short head in the 1936 Ascot Gold Cup. He also lost, by a neck, the Princess of Wales Stakes at Newmarket racecourse.
Despite his hall of fame career, upon retirement, Omaha’s win-loss record was 9-7-2 in 22 starts, and he earned $154,755. His stud life saw him spend time at Claiborne Farm, the Jockey Club’s Breeding Bureau, which sent him to New York state, as well as a stint near Nebraska City later in life.
In the 1950s, Omaha would be paraded around the Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack for publicity photos with young children. Omaha passed away on April 24, 1959, when he was 27 years old, and he was buried in the Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack circle of champions. He would be inducted into the U.S. Racing Hall of Fame posthumously in 1965.
Omaha Race Record
- 2nd Sanford Stakes (USA, 6FD, Saratoga)
- 2nd Junior Champion Stakes (USA, 8FD, Aqueduct)
- 2nd Champagne Stakes (USA, 6.5FD, Belmont)
- Kentucky Derby Winner (USA, 10FD, Churchill Downs)
- Preakness Stakes Winner (USA, 9.5FD, Pimlico)
- Belmont Stakes Winner (USA, 12FD, Belmont)
- Classic Stakes Winner (USA, 10FD, Arlington Park; new track record 2:01-2/5)
- Dwyer Stakes Winner (USA, 9FD, Aqueduct)
- 2nd Withers Stakes (USA, 8FD, Belmont)
- 3rd Brooklyn Handicap (USA, 9FD, Aqueduct)
- 3rd Wood Memorial Stakes (USA, 8f+70yD, Jamaica)
- Victor Wild Stakes Winner (ENG, 12FT, Kempton)
- Queen’s Plate Winner (ENG, 16FT, Kempton)
- 2nd Ascot Gold Cup (ENG, 20FT, Ascot)
- 2nd Prince of Wales’s Stakes (ENG, 12FT, Newmarket)
- National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (inducted in 1965)
- Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame (inducted in 2015)
- American champion 3-year-old male (1935)
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