Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder turned in her final bit of serious exercise in front of the $1-million TVG Pacific Classic this Saturday when she worked a half mile on Tuesday morning at Del Mar through a substantial fog that blanketed the seaside track.
With regular exercise rider Janeen Painter in the saddle, the three-time Eclipse Award winner was among the first to go trackside at 6:30 following the first renovation break and she began her exercise jogging with a pony before breaking off to start her work at the half-mile pole.
The track’s clockers, who struggled to see workers through the thick fog that had rolled in around 5:45, had their spotter on the backside signal when the husky bay mare hit the half mile and then they clicked their watches as she crossed the finish line in :47.00.
“We just couldn’t get any splits because of the fog,” said clocker Toby Turrell. “But we think our time was pretty close. We (there were four clockers working Tuesday morning) all agreed that it rated a “B” for breezing. She was well within herself.”
Trainer Richard Mandella watched the work from the Del Mar grandstand and said he caught his 6-year-old in :12 from the eighth pole to the wire, then had her galloping out to the seven-eighths pole in :25 1/5.
Told of the clocker’s “official” time afterwards, Mandella said he’d prefer to not agree.
“I don’t think she did any :47 this morning,” he said. “Maybe :48 or even :49. But they’re going to put what they want to put. It’s fine with me.”
Beholder, the winner of last year’s TVG Pacific Classic in stunning fashion over nine male rivals, could face an even tougher assignment this year with former Horse of the Year California Chrome and stakes star Dortmund among those she is expected to face in the 2016 edition of the mile and one quarter.
“We didn’t want to do anything special with her this morning,” said Mandella, the Hall of Fame trainer who has won the Pacific Classic four times. “We just wanted to stretch her legs a little bit. She’s done well with easy works in front of her races in the past.
“I told Janeen she could break her off from the half (mile pole), the three (furlong pole) or the quarter (mile pole) and work her a half from wherever. I just didn’t want another horse buzzing her and stirring her up. I said just find a quiet spot and go. It worked out perfect.”
When Mandella met Beholder and Painter back at the barn following the exercise, he asked his rider how she went.
Painter, who has worked for the Mandella barn since 1998, just shook her head from side to side in amazement.
“Oh, boy. Oh, man,” was her comment.
Post positions for the TVG Pacific Classic will be drawn at a special event this evening at the popular Brigantine restaurant overlooking the track. A field of eight runners is considered likely for the 26th edition of the race, which many observers are saying will be the best running of the Grade I headliner ever presented.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club