ARCADIA, Calif. (June 4, 2016)—There is simply no stopping the mighty Beholder. With three Eclipse Awards and a pair of Breeders’ Cup victories, she is already considered one the game’s all-time great distaffers. Saturday’s Grade I, $400,000 Vanity Mile provided yet another testament to her greatness as she sat just off a dawdling first quarter mile of 25.03 and smoked home under Gary Stevens to win by 1 ½ measured lengths while getting the distance in 1:35.97.
In the care of trainer Richard Mandella for more than four years now, the 6-year-old mare by Henny Hughes registered her 10th Grade I victory and her 17th win from 22 overall starts. Owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, LLC, she won for the eighth consecutive time and is now an incredible 13 for 14 at Santa Anita, where she hopes to take on the boys in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.
“If someone told me before the race that we would go in 25 for the first quarter, I would say ‘No way,’” said Stevens, who has now won 11 races in 12 tries with the sure-to-be first ballot Hall of Famer. “I thought we would go in sub 23, 45 and change for the second quarter and I thought the final time would be under 1:34. Twenty five is legit, 49 is legit, but I think that’s the fastest last three eighths I’ve ever run in my life and she was lovin’ every minute of it.
“She’s like family to me. I don’t spend as much time with her as Richard does and everyone at the barn, but she’s very special to me. She’s the best thing I ever have ridden, or I ever will ride. I’m blessed to be on her back.”
The prohibitive 1-5 favorite in a field of five fillies and mares three and up, Beholder paid $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10. (There was $791,272 bet on her to show, with the total show pool at $854,497, creating a minus pool of $160,051).
“I’ve had a lot of great horses, but not like this,” said Hughes, who following Beholder’s last win stated that she would run again at age seven if “everything is perfect.” “I don’t think this will ever happen to me again…She’s definitely the best horse I’ve ever owned, maybe the best horse anyone has ever owned. She’s better this year than she was last year. She bigger, stronger and faster.”
The winner versus males of the Grade I Pacific Classic last summer, Hughes said that Beholder would remain in Southern California for the rest of the year.
“The Breeders’ Cup (at Santa Anita) in November is the main goal,” he said. “The Pacific Classic is our intention right now but I don’t know the dates of everything. I’m just happy with her winning a race. Even though I take credit for it, Richard makes all the decisions.”
In a performance that likely would have won the Vanity in many years, Stellar Wind, trainer John Sadler’s Eclipse Award winning 3-year-old Filly from 2015, ran a huge second in her 4-year-old debut under Victor Espinoza. Full of run while a joint third at the rail passing the five furlong marker, Stellar Wind angled three-wide, just outside of Beholder leaving the quarter pole and outran longshot Finest City by three quarters of a length for the place.
Off at 3-1, Stellar Wind paid $2.20 and $2.10.
Ridden by Tyler Baze, Finest City, who sat a close third most of the trip, finished 2 ¼ lengths in front of early pacesetter Lost Bus. Off at 12-1, Finest City paid $2.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 25.03, 49.31, 1:12.53 and 1:23.99.
Racing resumes on Sunday at Santa Anita with first post time for a nine-race card at 2 p.m. Admission gates open at 11:30 a.m.
GARY STEVENS, BEHOLDER, WINNER: “It changes every time. If someone told me before the race that we would go in twenty five for the first quarter I would say ‘no way.’ I thought we would go in sub twenty three, forty five and change for the second and I thought the final time would be under 1:34. Twenty five is legit, forty nine is legit, but I think that’s the fastest last three eighths I’ve ever run in my life and she was lovin’ every minute of it.
“She’s like family to me. I don’t spend as much time with her as Richard does and everyone at the barn but she’s very special to me. She’s the best thing I ever have ridden, or I ever will ride. I’m blessed to be on her back.”
VICTOR ESPINOZA, STELLAR WIND, SECOND: “She ran an awesome race. I expected her to run well, but not as well as she did today. This one will prove big for the next one. I’m excited for her. She came back better than before. She had a little more focus in the race, and everything went right today.”
RICHARD MANDELLA, BEHOLDER, WINNER: “Just another great effort. She continues to amaze us all. There was a time when we didn’t think she’d go long. She seems to adjust to what we’re doing. I’m lucky to experience something that very few people in history have – to have a great horse this long. Good horses come along, and there are a few great ones, but to be great and stay great, it really is special. There’s something very special about her.”
“I almost wondered if it was a mistake when I saw 25. I didn’t think you could do that. But you’ve seen her work. She’ll work really slow if we want, and she’ll work fast if we want. She’s really turned into a professional.”
B. WAYNE HUGHES, BEHOLDER, WINNER: “I’m glad Richard took my advice; to win. This means a lot to us.
“It was a very nice effort and I’m glad the pressure is off. Every time everyone expects your horse to win, I think it adds pressure. No real unbelievable news will happen, unless you lose.
“I’ve had a lot of great horses, but not like this. I don’t think this will ever happen to me again. I just heard Gary say she’s the best horse he’s ever ridden and she might well be. She’s definitely the best horse I’ve ever owned; maybe the best horse anyone has ever owned.
“I’ll consider bringing her back at seven only if she’s perfect. She’s better this year than she was last year. She’s bigger, stronger and faster. They put the girth on her and she’s bigger and she loves it so who am I to interfere with her having a good time.
“I thought the pace was going to be blazing hot at the beginning and it wasn’t and I don’t know exactly why. Once I saw that she was positioned, I wasn’t worried. She’s a difficult horse to beat.
“If the boys show up, I’ll take on the boys again.
“Mainly it’s the Breeders’ Cup in November as the main goal. The Pacific Classic is our intention right now but I don’t know the dates of everything, I’m just happy with her winning a race. Even though I take credit for it, Richard makes all the decisions.”
NOTES: Winning owner B. Wayne Hughes resides in Lexington, Ky. There was a minus place pool of $4,650.95, and a minus show pool of $160,051.41. Of the total show pool – $854,497, $791,272 was bet on Beholder.
Santa Anita Park