Defending TVG Pacific Classic champion Beholder breezed five furlongs in 59 seconds Wednesday morning under Gary Stevens, 10 days away from the signature race of the Del Mar summer meeting. It was the fastest of 41 works at the distance.
“She went off nicely and finished very well,” Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella said. ”She looks very good. She’s obviously come on very well or I wouldn’t have worked her like I did today.”
It was the first serious exercise for the three-time Eclipse Award winner since the half-length loss to Stellar Wind in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes on July 30 that ended an eight-race winning streak for Beholder and cast some doubt regarding a much anticipated California Chrome-Beholder showdown in the TVG Pacific Classic on August 20.
While pleased with the work, Mandella still intends to bide his time before committing.
— TVG (@TVG) August 10, 2016
“What we’ll look for in the next few days is any sign of regression of any kind,” Mandella said. “I haven’t made my mind up to do anything, but it (Pacific Classic) is possible. We’ll just have to feel our way along the next couple days and we’ll see.”
Beholder worked in company with stablemate Paiasolo, breaking off eight lengths behind but making up ground quickly and moving past Paiasolo by the quarter pole. Del Mar clockers had interim splits of :11.60, :23.20, :46.20 with a gallop-out to six furlongs in 1:13.40 and gave the work a “breezing” designation.
Stevens had nothing but positive comments about the work, but emphasized that he has no part in the decision-making process.
“(Mandella) gets my feedback and he decides,” Stevens said. “She kind of spoke for herself just now. Eleven days after her last race and 10 days to the race. I’m sure he’ll wait for a few more days. I know he won’t go unless he’s 100 percent confident, but he’s got a smile on his face right now.
“I liked the energy she showed this morning. I liked everything about it.”
Beholder had been put through daily gallops of upwards of a mile under exercise rider Janine Painter for several days before Mandella decided to put her to a more rigorous test Wednesday morning.
“She had a really strong gallop yesterday, stronger than I’ve seen in a long time,” said Stevens. “Going to and coming back from the track it was like she’d look for other horses and other people to kick at – she’d look for targets for target practice. She was doing that yesterday and she hadn’t done that for a while.”
PACIFIC CLASSIC – Thursday night at midnight is the deadline for nominations for the Pacific Classic. Among those expected to be nominated are: Beholder, California Chrome, Cyrus Alexander, Dalmore, Dortmund, Hard Aces, Hoppertunity, Imperative, Win the Space and War Story.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club