Spendthrift Farm's Beholder justified trainer Richard Mandella's decision to enter her in the Grade 1, $1,818,000 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies instead of the Juvenile Sprint earlier on Santa Anita's Friday program with a wire-to-wire win under jockey Garrett Gomez.
"She ran her heart out. It was a big effort and being at her home track sure helps. I guess Santa Anita still has the magic," said Mandella, who in 2003 captured four Breeders' Cup races at Santa Anita.
The bay daughter of Henny Hughes used her speed to open a comfortable margin on the backstretch while tracked by Kauai Katie and 3-2 favorite Executiveprivilege through fractions of :22 3/5, :46 2/5 and 1:11. Beholder held that latter rival in the lane to finish 1 1/16 miles on the fast dirt in 1:43 3/5 and return $9.80, $4.60 and $3 as the near 4-1 second choice.
"We figured to be on the lead unless someone did something, and she ran just to her style," Gomez explained. "She's super fast, and she relaxed as much as I wanted her to. I tried to sneak away a little on the turn for home, and at first she did it, but then she acted like she hit a wall and I got a little nervous.
"But when the other filly (Executiveprivilege) came to her, she kicked on and gave me another gear. I guess she was just playing possum with me."
Executiveprivilege entered the Juvenile Fillies owning a perfect five-for-five mark, but drifted toward the grandstand in late stretch to miss by a length on the wire.
"She got a little tired at the three-eighths, but she ran all the way," remarked Rafael Bejarano, who was aboard Executiveprivilege. "When she changed leads in the stretch, she drifted out. She did that before (in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante). But she tried. She ran all the way. We just got beat."
Dreaming of Julia, also sporting an unbeaten record entering the race, got up to take third another 4 1/4 lengths behind Executiveprivilege. It was 2 1/4 lengths to the other previously undefeated filly, Kauai Katie, while Spring in the Air, Broken Spell, Renee's Queen and Almost an Angel completed the order under the wire.
"She just wasn't into it. She lost her focus right from the start," said Dreaming of Julia's rider, John Velazquez. "She would run for a little bit, then she'd stop. She'd run on the turn, then back out of it. She just didn't run her race today."
Beholder was a well-beaten fourth behind Executiveprivilege and Renee's Queen when making her racing debut at Hollywood Park in late June, but returned next out at Del Mar to break her maiden by 3 1/4 lengths. The bay filly was entered back against Executiveprivilege in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, and just missed by a nose after leading throughout that seven-furlong contest.
Originally pointed for the Grade 1 Chandelier (formerly Oak Leaf) next out on September 29 at Santa Anita, Mandella backed off a bit and instead sent her to an allowance on October 4 at the track. Beholder romped by 11 lengths in that six-furlong affair and, with this one added to her resume, now boasts a 5-3-1-0 line to go along with $1,215,000 in career earnings.
"When we came from Del Mar she had just won her third race in the Debutante," Mandella explained the decision to skip both the Chandelier and eventually run Beholder in the Juvenile Fillies. "She is excitable, you would probably consider her a sprinter stretching out not a two-turn horse getting a prep race sprinting. Consequently, the race the last few days at Del Mar, and shipping up to Santa Anita at that, caught up with her and mentally she wouldn't turn off and relax going into the Chandelier Stakes.
"I called (B.) Wayne (Hughes of Spendthrift Farm) and voiced my concern and thought I would train her up to the sprint today. Immediately she settled down and I saw the allowance race there and I thought as bad as we need money we might as well work her for something and get paid and we did that. Then it was easy to go for the big money. She never got upset after the race and that was the concern."
Bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm, Beholder came to her current connections as a $180,000 Keeneland September yearling. She is out of the stakes-winning Tricky Creek mare Leslie's Lady, making her a half-sister to Grade 1-scoring sire Into Mischief. This is the same female family as yet another Grade 1-winning stallion in Roanoke
"I'm just going to enjoy this and we'll worry about next year later," Mandella added when asked about Beholder's sophomore campaign. "She has come a long ways from her maiden win, getting beat out of her maiden race to Executiveprivilege by a whisker at Del Mar, and to improve and come this much further and go a mile and a sixteenth, you have to realize she hadn't been two turns. So you have to give her credit, I believe."