Trainer Richard Mandella summed it up pretty good Saturday afternoon at Santa Anita Park.
“Good horses come along, and there are a few great ones, but to be great and stay great, it really is special. There’s something very special about her.”
That in regards to Beholder, who had just recorded her eighth straight victory and her 10th Grade 1 triumph when taking the Vanity Mile (G1) by 1 1/2 lengths.
Everyone expected Beholder to win. The three-time champion only faced four rivals in the eight-furlong contest and exited the gate at 1-5 odds. However, this is horse racing, and anything can happen in horse racing.
Anything except beating Beholder, it seems like.
Not to say the Henny Hughes mare hasn’t been defeated, but of late no one can seem to touch the six-year-old. Her current streak began in the 2014 Zenyatta (G1), where she suffered her closest finish of the winning skein when scoring by three parts of a length.
Beholder would go on to trounce the boys in the 2015 Pacific Classic (G1) by 8 1/4 lengths, and everything was set for the match of the century in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) against American Pharoah, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
Alas it wasn’t to be as Beholder bled in her pre-race training just days before the big showdown. Mandella, rightfully, scratched the uber-popular mare and sent her back to sunny California for a long and well-deserved winter vacation.
Beholder didn’t return to competition until the May 8 Adoration (G3), which she turned into a paid workout, and Saturday’s Vanity Mile saw her easily holding off 2015 champion three-year-old filly Stellar Wind in the next step on her quest for Breeders’ Cup Classic glory.
And make no mistake, Beholder is eyeing the Classic once again. Owner B. Wayne Hughes may have not said that specifically in the post-race interview, just remarking that the Breeders’ Cup is the main goal, but can there be any doubt?
Beholder has been trouncing her distaff rivals for over a year now, entered last year’s Classic despite it being run in Kentucky and is also once again targeting the Pacific Classic. That Hughes did confirm, “The Pacific Classic is our intention right now.”
An added incentive for the talented mare to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic in that this time she’ll be able to run out of her Santa Anita Park home base instead of shipping cross-country to Keeneland.
The time is right for another supermare to take a shot at Classic stardom. Zenyatta broke the barrier with her 2009 win and now it’s Beholder’s turn.
All hail Queen B.
Beholder photo courtesy of Benoit Photos