Beholder added yet another trophy to her already impressive collection when honored as the champion older dirt female on Saturday following a perfect 2015 season.

The Henny Hughes mare already boasts a pair of Eclipse Awards thanks to stellar campaigns as a juvenile and sophomore. Her 2014 run was shortened to only three starts due to various illnesses and ailments, but she returned with a vengeance last year.

Beholder opened her five-year-old campaign by defending her title in the Santa Lucia S. by 3 3/4 lengths at Santa Anita Park. Trainer Richard Mandella had the May 9 Vanity H. (G1) penciled in as her next start, but a fever derailed those plans and the bay mare wouldn’t be seen again until contesting the Adoration (G3) on June 13.

Beholder proved she was back to her old self with an effortless 1 1/4-length victory as the 1-5 favorite in the Adoration, and proceeded to romp by seven lengths in the Clement L. Hirsch (G1) next out on August 1 at Del Mar.

Mandella floated the idea of running Beholder against the boys in the Pacific Classic (G1) if she continued doing well following the Hirsch, and that turned into reality just 21 days later.

Despite facing her male counterparts, the popular mare was sent off the 2-1 favorite in the Pacific Classic and ran to those odds.

With regular rider Gary Stevens in the saddle, Beholder bided her time in third before slingshotting around the final turn and grabbing the lead. She turned the race into a rout and humbled her male rivals by drawing off to score by 8 1/4 lengths

“I didn’t expect her to beat up on the colts like this,” Mandella admitted after the race. “Nature doesn’t make many like her, ever.”

The win gave Beholder an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), but for now the mare returned to face fellow distaffers while defending her title in the September 26 Zenyatta (G1) by 3 1/4 lengths. That race awarded her a guaranteed spot to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), a race she captured in 2013 but was forced to skip in 2014 due to a fever.

Her connections decided to give Beholder a shot at glory and opted for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. The contest was also scheduled to feature Triple Crown champion American Pharoah, and the stage was set for a race for the ages.

Unfortunately, that pesky fever came back one week before the Classic, and Beholder’s participation was suddenly in doubt. Her connections reported she was doing well and plans were to run, but just two days before Breeders’ Cup Saturday a scope revealed Beholder had bled during routine exercise that morning.

The mare was scratched and spent some down time at a farm before returning to Mandella’s barn at Santa Anita Park on January 13. She underwent routine tests and then departed to Julie Adair-Stack’s facility in Chino Hills, California, to continue readying for her six-year-old bow and an initial long-range goal of the Vanity on June 4.

Campaigned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, Beholder amassed $1,068,300 in earnings to go along with her perfect five-for-five mark in 2015. Overall, the talented mare has banked $4,436,600 in career earnings while racking up a 20-15-3-0 scorecard.

Beholder photo courtesy of Benoit Photos

OLDER DIRT FEMALE

 

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