Beholder's 2015 debut seemingly went as well as it could have in the $75,000 Santa Lucia Stakes April 10 at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).
Off at 3-10 odds, the two-time Eclipse Award winner owned by Spendthrift Farm tracked early leader Uzziel through most of the 1 1/16-mile test, then surged through the final turn and pulled away effortlessly under no urging from jockey Gary Stevens to win by 3 3/4 lengths.
The 5-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes covered the distance in 1:42.54—after sitting comfortably in second behind opening fractions of :24.30, :47.95, and 1:11.99—to win the Santa Lucia for the second straight year.
"The game was pretty much over going into the first turn and it was sort of a glorified workout, which is something you hope for in a race like this," Stevens said.
Beholder returned $2.60, $2.10, and $2.10 across the board. Uzziel delivered $3.20 and $2.60, while third-place finisher and 26-1 longshot Oscar Party paid $3.80 to show.
"She's the best filly I've ever sat on and I'm not sure she's not the best horse I've ever ridden," Stevens said.
Last year, the Santa Lucia was Beholder's prep for the Ogden Phipps Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park, where she finished fourth, before winning the Zenyatta Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita for the second straight year. This year, trainer Richard Mandella said the next step for the mare is the $300,000 Vanity Stakes (gr. I) May 9 at Santa Anita, before taking another crack at the Ogden Phipps June 6.
"She'll go back to barn for now," Mandella said. "The Vanity is next and then the Ogden Phipps on Belmont Day, and we're going to get it right this time.
"She couldn't look better, I don't think," Mandella said of the Santa Lucia win.
Bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm out of the Tricky Creek mare Leslie's Lady, the six-time grade I winner improved her record to 11-3-0 from 16 career starts and her mark at Santa Anita now stands at 9-1-0 in 10 starts. Her career earnings now sit at just more than $3.4 million.