STEVENS GUIDES MARE THROUGH PRE-DAWN BREEZE OVER RECENTLY AMMENDED SURFACE
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 15, 2015)–In her final local work in advance of what looms an epic showdown with Triple Crown Champ American Pharoah in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic Oct. 31, two-time Eclipse Champion mare Beholder worked a solid five furlongs this morning at Santa Anita in 1:02.00 and will be headed to Lexington, Kentucky early Monday morning according to her Hall of Fame conditioner, Richard Mandella.
“She leaves Monday,” said Mandella, who along with other onlookers had a difficult time tracking the mare Thursday due to poor lighting conditions. “I got her in 1:01 and three (for five furlongs), but I couldn’t see…I could see her break off clearly but every time she hit a pole, there was something in the way. It doesn’t matter though.
“That’s all I was looking for. She’s had her races, so we don’t need to create anything at this point, (we) just want to keep her happy. She’s been very happy.”
Under cloudy pre-dawn skies, Beholder, with regular rider Gary Stevens up, came on the main track accompanied by a pony following the 6:30 a.m. renovation and jogged straight off from the quarter mile chute through the stretch. Breaking into a full gallop free of the pony midway around the Club House turn, Beholder angled down to the rail at the 5 ½ furlong pole, approximately two lengths behind a stablemate and rattled off official splits of 12.40, 24.80, 37.20 and 1:02.00 en route to the six furlong pole and a gallop out time of 1:16 flat.
“We went off at the five and a half,” said Stevens, who has guided Beholder to five consecutive victories and has won with her in nine out of 10 overall tries, all stakes. “She just cruised around there. We wanted to pick it up at the five sixteenths. Richard had told me to wait until the quarter pole so I let her extend at the quarter pole and then at the three sixteenths, she wanted to hit the afterburners but Richard didn’t want anything fancy with her.
“…That’s as serious as she’ll get before the Breeders’ Cup, that’s all she needed. She’ll have one more tuneup at Keeneland and that’ll be it…If I’m there and he needs me then I’ll be there, but there’s a chance he won’t if he thinks she’ll do too much with me on her back.”
Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Beholder, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred mare by Henny Hughes, faced males for the first time in the Grade I Pacific Classic Aug. 22, with the result a resounding 8 ¼ length win. In her most recent start on Sept. 26, she annexed her third consecutive Grade I Zenyatta Stakes, winning by a facile 3 ¼ lengths in what was her ninth career Grade I win.
In her first post Zenyatta drill, Beholder worked an easy five furlongs in 1:02.00 “breezing” on Oct. 9. Today’s drill, 16 days in advance of the Classic on Oct. 31 at Keeneland, had a more serious tone over a surface that underwent routine maintenance Wednesday afternoon and was thus playing slower on Thursday morning.
With two Eclipse Award trophies, an overall mark of 20-15-3-0 and earnings of $4,436,600, Beholder is unquestionably one of the best horses of her era. A win on Oct. 31 versus the best male horses in the world, including the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, would cement her status as one of racing’s all-time greats.