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BEHOLDER TAKES GRADE I SANTA ANITA OAKS BY 2 ¾ LENGTHS, MANDELLA TRAINEE HEADED TO KENTUCKY OAKS MAY 3
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 6, 2013)—Reigning Eclipse Champion Juvenile Filly Beholder looked the part and then some at odds of 1-5 on Saturday, taking the Grade I, $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks by 2 ¾ lengths under Garrett Gomez while covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.16--thus stamping her ticket to the Grade I Kentucky Oaks May 3.
Sent to the lead from the outset, Beholder established a two length advantage around the Club House turn and was 3 ½ lengths clear of second choice Fiftyshadesofhay turning for home after carving out splits of 23.61, 47.14, 1:10.97 and 1:36.36.
“She ran really well today,” said Gomez. “She left the gate like a shot…and it looked like no one really wanted the lead so I went ahead and crossed over, and was going to dictate it from there.
“I knew she was going to have to work a little harder today, just from the simple fact that (Bob) Baffert (trainer of Fiftyshadesofhay) let my horse get an easy lead in the (March 2) Las Virgenes. I knew his filly would be up on top of me somewhere along the way today, which she was, early.
“Beholder set some decent fractions and stayed on well today. She gives me a 110 percent when we go out there and she’s just a pleasure to be on all the time. The mile and an eighth (in the Kentucky Oaks) will be another question but we’ll see what happens.”
A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Henny Hughes, Beholder, trained by Richard Mandella and owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, came off a 3 ¾ length win over Fiftyshadesofhay in the one mile, Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes on March 2, and has now won five of her eight career starts.
“You expect (to win), but with horse racing, you don’t want to expect too much,” said Mandella. “It’ll break your heart. She just did everything right, handled herself well and she’s a very good filly…She’s got the heart of a warrior.”
The prohibitive favorite in a field of six, Beholder paid $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10
With the winner’s share of $180,000, Beholder now has $1,575,000 in earnings. Her complete record stands at 8-5-2-0.
“I think the Kentucky Oaks might be tougher than the Derby this year,” said Hughes. “We’re looking forward to the Oaks. We can’t go to the Derby. They won’t let us in anymore.”
Fiftyshadesofhay, who tried to stay with the winner, was tagged late by longshot Iotapa for the place, beaten a neck while finishing third, 3 ¼ lengths in front of Spellbound.
Off at 16-1 and ridden by Joe Talamo, Iotapa paid $7.80 and $3.80.
Fiftyshadesofhay, ridden by Rafael Bejarano, paid $2.10 to show.
“The winner was much best today,” said Bejarano. “I tried to keep my position, but I just couldn’t catch the winner. My horse came running at the end, but it wasn’t good enough.”
The Santa Anita Oaks was run as the fifth race on an 11-race Santa Anita Derby Day program.