The road to the Breeders’ Cup has been a winding one for Richard Mandella and Beholder. After opening the year with wins at the Adoration and the Vanity, Beholder has lost two races to Stellar Wind and another to California Chrome. Those defeats threw her long anticipated pursuit of the Classic at the world champions in to doubt. Now repurposed towards the Distaff, the champion mare continued to pace at Santa Anita and earned praise from her trainer.
“Couldn’t look better. Period,” Mandella said as he watched on from the grandstands at Santa Anita, the home of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup. “This was the serious one. The next one will be a little easier.”
The official clockers at Santa Anita had Beholder running fractions of :11 1/5, :22 2/5, :34 1/5, and :46 3/5, with the final time for five-furlongs being :59 1/5. That’s ridiculously fast. The best part is that her rider didn’t have to do much work.
Jockey Gary Stevens has been the go-to option for Mandella, and he came away happy with how the work went today. “She’s really happy and in a good spot mentally. We were rolling. Those were some pretty serious fractions, and she picked up just coming into the straight and I snugged her up. Mandella was looking for a minute and we went a bit better than a minute, so that was plenty for today.”
Knowing Beholder’s strengths better than anyone, Stevens admitted that he’s going to let Beholder do her thing. “I’m not going to overthink it. I’m just going to let her do her thing,” Stevens quipped. As long as Beholder keeps posting times like this, Mandella will be happy to let his star trainee stay the course.
Beholder will face Stellar Wind for a fourth time at the Distaff, while encountering Songbird for the first time. It is going to be an absolutely wild contest.