Omaha (March 24, 1932–April 24, 1959) was
a United States thoroughbred horse racing champion.
Foaled at Claiborne Farm in Paris,
Kentucky, he was the son of 1930 U.S. Triple Crown
winner Gallant Fox and the mare Flambino. Omaha was the
third horse to win the Triple Crown having won as a
three-year-old in 1935.
Omaha was an unlikely champion. Like his
father, as a two-year-old he was less than spectacular,
winning just once in nine races. In four of the nine
races, Omaha finished out of the money. During the
winter, however, the horse filled out and began to look
like a champion and he won the three Triple Crown races
The horse was owned by William Woodward,
Sr.'s famous Belair Stud in Bowie, Maryland and was
trained by Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons who also trained
Omaha's sire to the Triple Crown. He was ridden by
Canadian jockey Smokey Saunders.
In January 1936, amidst great fanfare,
Omaha was loaded aboard the RMS Aquitania and shipped to
England where he made four starts, winning twice and
finishing second twice. On May 30, he won the Queen's
Plate at Kempton Park Racecourse. On June 18, in front
of an estimated at 200,000 spectators, Omaha lost the
2.5 mile (4 km) Ascot Gold Cup by a head to the filly,
Quashed. In his only other defeat in England, he ran
second by a neck in the 1˝-mile Princess of Wales's
Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse.
Retired to stand at stud at Claiborne
Farm, he failed to perform satisfactorily and in 1943
was turned over to the Jockey Club's Breeding Bureau who
sent north to a stud farm in New York State where he
remained for seven years. He was then moved west in 1950
to Nebraska, where he lived out the last nine years of
his life on a farm near Nebraska City, about 45 miles
(72 km) south of the city of Omaha. During the 1950s,
the Triple Crown winner was often taken to the
Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in Omaha and paraded about the
infield as a promotional stunt. Photos were taken of
Omaha with two or three small children upon his old bent
back while he chewed on an apple or a carrot. When the
gate bell rang to begin a race, the old campaigner would
lift his head and lope forward down the track inside the
rail (to the delight of the fans), as if reliving his
glory days from decades ago.
When Omaha died in 1959 at the age of 27,
he was buried in the Circle of Champions at the
Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack. The track closed in 1995 and the
land was taken over by the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Omaha's grave is next to a home economics and culinary
arts classroom. When a cooking project fails, the
unfortunate student is told to "Give it to Omaha" (throw
it out the window). Students on their way into a test
often nod toward the gravesite for good luck.
Omaha was not considered a great sire although four
generations later, his blood ran through the veins of
the great British champion Nijinsky II. Three Kentucky
Derby champions are third great grandsons of Omaha.
In 1965, he was inducted into the
National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In The
Blood-Horse ranking of the top 100 thoroughbred
champions of the 20th Century, Omaha was ranked #61. And
yet he never received the Eclipse Award for Horse of the
Year even as a Triple Crown winner. In 1935, that honor
went to another future Hall of Famer, Discovery.