Whereabouts remain a mystery
by Associated Press
OMAHA, Neb. -- Smarty Jones' run at the Triple Crown has racing fans in Nebraska wondering about the whereabouts of Omaha, who accomplished the feat almost 70 years ago.
The remains of the 1935 Triple Crown winner Omaha were buried on the grounds of the old Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in 1959. When the track's clubhouse was expanded in 1974, the structure was built over the chestnut stallion's grave and the headstone was moved to another location.
The track closed in 1995, and work to raze the grandstand and clubhouse has only begun recently.
Workers have not been able to locate Omaha's remains.
"I know they knew where to dig," said Leonard Larson, who was on the crew that moved the headstone. "He was right where the clubhouse lobby was."
Larson, who worked at the track in various capacities for 35 years, said he thinks Omaha's remains were mistakenly dug up and disposed of when earth was moved for grading at the start of the clubhouse expansion.
Burton Smith, Ak-Sar-Ben's longtime track veterinarian, said if Omaha's remains are still in place, workers should be able to find remnants of the horse's skull, bones or teeth.
Nebraska racing fans have an affinity for Omaha, even though the horse had no ties to the state until after he retired.
His owner, William Woodward of New York, once said he named the horse after "one of the best towns in these United States."
In 1950 the horse was brought to Omaha to be bred to mares in Nebraska City.
"We claim Omaha, yet really during the time he ran, there wasn't any connection other than he was named after our town," said Tim Schmad, a former member of the Ak-Sar-Ben management team.