Wash, rinse, repeat—Beholder is still the queen of California.
Spendthrift Farm's indefatigable 5-year-old mare was once again much the best at Santa Anita Park, taking the $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes (gr. I) in the easiest of gallops Sept. 26.
"It really was pretty much what I had hoped for from her," winning trainer Richard Mandella said. "I hate to say 'easy,' but it really did look easy."
The victory was the sixth straight for the daughter of Henny Hughes, her ninth grade I score, and 11th at Santa Anita. It was her third straight Zenyatta score, only equaling Zenyatta herself, who also won the race three times when it was called the Lady Secret Stakes (gr. I).
Pacesetter My Sweet Addiction, after setting fractions of :23.43 and :47.43 through a half-mile, hung on gamely for second, 3 1/4 lengths back, but Beholder was never fully extended and was under wraps by Gary Stevens throughout. Savings Account came in third, 5 1/2 lengths back.
"I feel like I won," My Sweet Addiction's jockey, Mike Smith, said with a laugh. "I wanted to get second—well, the (win), if we could—but we knew who was in there, and to run second to that mare is a really good thing. I'm just proud of the way she acted today."
Off at 1-9, Beholder challenged the front-runner entering the final turn and the pair covered six furlongs in 1:11.38 before the winning mare took over to cover a mile in 1:36.09 and hit the wire in 1:42.83 for 1 1/16 miles.
"(Mandella) told me yesterday, 'I want to win, but by no means do I want to knock her out,'" Stevens said. "We couldn't have scripted it any better. I told him that he might have to tack-walk her in the morning, because she pulled up full of it."
Breaking from the outside post in the field of eight, a wide trip did not faze Beholder in the slightest. She was fifth while four wide in the first turn and three wide for much of the backstretch before making her move.
"Gary didn't want trouble," Mandella said. "He just kept her clear and had a nice workout."
Beholder brought $2.20, $2.10, and $2.10 across the board. My Sweet Addiction paid $5.40 and $3.40, while Savings Account delivered $5.60 to show.
As expected, talk after the race quickly shifted to whether Beholder's connections will decide to run her against males again in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).
"That would be the plan," Mandella said. "Anything can change and nothing is in stone, but as of now, there's no reason not to think of that."
"I'm not going to make any predictions," Stevens added, "but I can't wait to go to Keeneland."