IDLE SINCE SEPT. 27, STEVENS SAYS MANDELLA TRAINEE ‘BEST FILLY I’VE EVER SAT ON’
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 10, 2015)–Two-time Eclipse Award Champion Beholder overcame a six month layoff to make short work of four rivals in winning Friday’s $75,000 Santa Lucia Stakes by 3 ¾ lengths under Gary Stevens. Trained by Richard Mandella and owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, the 5-year-old mare by Henny Hughes covered 1 1/16 miles under a long hold in 1:42.54.
Breaking from the outside at odds of 1-5, Beholder rated kindly in second behind Uzziel, who was ridden by Kent Desormeaux. With Uzziel carving out early splits of 24.30 and 47.95, Stevens moved alongside the pacesetter going to the three eighths pole, took the lead midway around the far turn and opened up easily approaching the furlong pole to win in-hand.
“She’s the best filly I’ve ever sat on, and I’m not sure she’s not the best horse I’ve ever ridden,” said Stevens, who has partnered with some of the best fillies the game has produced over the past three decades. “Winning Colors (1988 Kentucky Derby winner), Silverbulletday (1999 Kentucky Oaks), this mare, they all have a temperament and they’re their own woman. I just try to get along with them. She listens to me and she acts like she enjoys me on her back and I’m darn sure I enjoy being there.
“I knew she was pretty fit, but it’s a long year. I know the Breeders’ Cup is the goal and however Richard works backwards to get us to that point, I’ll just be along for the ride. Hopefully, we can both stay healthy.”
Sidelined due to a fever following her second lifetime win in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita Sept. 27, Beholder was thus denied an opportunity to win her second consecutive Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Oct. 31.
“You never know until you run them, believe me,” said an obviously relieved Mandella. “Mr. Hughes has a saying, “(Stuff) happens. The (Grade I) Vanity here on May 9 is next and then the Ogden Phipps on Belmont Day (June 6), and we’re going to get it right this time.”
Hughes, who founded Public Storage and is currently based in Kentucky, was understandably elated with Beholder’s seasonal debut.
“She met and exceeded my expectations today,” said Hughes. “She’s a nice horse and I’m very lucky to own her…I could be wrong, but she’s the best filly in the world. Richard Mandella got it together and you’ve got to give it to him. He’s one of the very few trainers who can get a horse ready for a particular race. Everyone else, the horse tells them where to go. Not Richard, he tells the horse where to go.”
With $79,753 bet to win on Beholder and a whopping $217,450 bet to show, she paid $2.60, $2.10 and $2.10. In getting her 11th win from 16 starts, she picked up $48,300, increasing her earnings to $3,416,600.
Uzziel, who tried to match strides with the winner around the far turn, checked in second, 2 ¾ lengths in front of longshot Oscar Party. Off at 5-1, Uzziel paid $3.20 and $2.60.
Ridden by Santiago Gonzalez, Oscar Party was dispatched at 26-1 and paid $3.80 to show.
Although there was a massive negative show pool bet on Beholder, Santa Anita’s exposure was limited, due to the fact $202,000 of it was wagered out of state, according to the track’s Director of Pari-Mutuels, Randy Hartzell.
“Our exposure on the show pool was roughly $10,000,” said Hartzell.
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12:30, Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m.