Trailing a stablemate at the quarter pole Thursday during her five-furlong workout, the 6-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes was suddenly ahead in the blink of an eye.
Although her hand has been somewhat forced to run on the lead in recent losses to Stellar Wind, Beholder exhibited a familiar stalk-and-pounce punch she has employed in arguably her best racing efforts, most emphatically her romp in the 2015 TVG Pacific Classic (gr. I).
Under jockey Gary Stevens Thursday morning, Beholder broke off three lengths behind Richard Mandella stablemate Salten Sapity, an unraced 2-year-old Congrats filly, loomed about a length-and-a-half back in the turn, and blew by on the inside entering the stretch to finish about 2 1/2 lengths ahead.
"Couldn't look better—period," Mandella said succinctly after observing the move from the Santa Anita grandstand. "This was the serious one. The next one will be a little easier."
As visually impressive as the work was, the finishing time and fractions left an even more powerful impression.
Santa Anita clockers timed Beholder's furlong fractions in :11 1/5, :22 2/5, :34 1/5, and :46 3/5, with a five-furlong finishing time of :59 1/5. After her burst past Salten Sapity, Stevens asked little of the three-time champion in the stretch.
"That's her move," Stevens said of the top-of-the-stretch surge. "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."
As for tactics in the Nov. 4 Distaff, where Beholder will likely take on fellow champions Stellar Wind and Songbird, Stevens and Mandella are keeping that relatively close to the vest.
"I'm not going to overthink it. I'm just going to let her do her thing," Stevens said.