James "Jimmy" Stout
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 easily.
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.
Racing in England
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 30th, he won the Queen's Plate at Kempton Park Racecourse. On June 18th, 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 1/2-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.