Mandella Works Breeders’ Cup Magic With Beholder
Richard Mandella continued his home-field mastery of the Breeders’ Cup on Friday at Santa Anita, sending out Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder to victory over an all-star field in the Grade 1 Distaff, the race that for several years was known as the Ladies’ Classic. She defeated Close Hatches by 4 1/4 lengths, with front-running longshot Authenticity third and 7-5 favorite Royal Delta fourth, Street Girl fifth, and Princess of Sylmar last in the field of six fillies and mares.
The 3-year-old Henny Hughes filly was the Hall of Fame trainer’s eighth Breeders’ Cup triumph – all of them coming at his home track in Arcadia, Calif. Beholder, last year’s 2-year-old filly champion, won the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies for Mandella to go along with two victories in 1993 (Kotashaan in the Turf, Phone Chatter in the Juvenile Fillies) and four in 2003 (Action This Day in the Juvenile, Halfbridled in the Juvenile Fillies, Johar in the Turf, and Pleasantly Perfect in the Classic).
Beholder is the first filly to win the Juvenile Fillies and Distaff in consecutive years.
A bit anxious in the starting gate, Beholder broke a step slowly, then moved up to a contending position while three wide in the early going – never more than a length and a half from the front. She made a bold move down the backstretch under comebacking Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, took the lead before entering the stretch, then cruised to the wire, winning easily. Close Hatches had 1 3/4 lengths on Authenticity with two-time Distaff winner Royal Delta another 2 1/4 lengths back in fourth in what likely is her final career start.
Royal Delta led briefly in the early going, but Authenticity set most of the fractions: 22.78 for the opening quarter mile, :46.30 for the half, and 1:10.28 for six furlongs. Under regular rider Mike Smith, Royal Delta was clearly struggling before the field reached the far turn, and when Beholder made her move, Smith had no answer. Princess of Sylmar was never a factor after stumbling at the break.
Final time on a track that favored horses racing on the lead was 1:47.77 for the 1 1/8 miles, after a one-mile clocking of 1:34.78.
The victory will make for some interesting debate over the 3-year-old filly championship. Princess of Sylmar, who defeated Beholder in the G1 Kentucky Oaks, was the divisional leader with four consecutive G1 wins (Kentucky Oaks, CCA Oaks, Alabama and Beldame Invitational against older fillies and mares). Beholder evened the score, but it was on her home track. She’d won a trio of G1 races at Santa Anita this year – the Las Virgines and Santa Anita Oaks in the spring and the Zenyatta against her elders in the fall. She was beaten a half-length by Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks.
Beholder, produced from the Tricky Creek mare Leslie’s Lady, is a half sister to Into Mischief, sire of Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Goldencents. She was bred in Kentucky by the Clarkland Farm of Fred and Nancy Mitchell and their daughter, Marty Buckner. The farm has produced such stars in the past as champions Housebuster and North Sider.
B. Wayne Hughes, owner of Spendthrift Farm, was winning his fourth Breeders’ Cup race.
Stevens was winning his ninth Breeders’ Cup race and first since 2000.
Richard Mandella (trainer, Beholder, 1st) – “We trained her this way (to run from off the pace.) We’ve just never had to use it before. She’s so naturally fast, you don’t have to train that into her and she’s made the lead so easily in many of her races. Today, she had to come from off of it and she did it – and boy do I love it. I’ve been lucky enough to have many good mares in my years of training, but this mare might have to be the best of all.”
Gary Stevens (jockey, Beholder, 1st) – “She was a little fractious going into the gate and a little anxious. I was afraid she might over-break but she settled and broke beautiful. This is the best race she’s ever run. I was hoping that Authenticity would carry the lead a little farther but (Beholder) moved up nice, went by her easy and the really opened up.
Bill Mott (trainer, Close Hatches, 2nd and Royal Delta, 4th) – “He (Mike Smith) tried to get her to go on a little more on the first turn and she didn’t.
Was your confidence as high this year, as last year? “She’d worked very well coming into the race. It’s hard to say. I thought she was doing well going into the race. She’d worked well.
“She’s had three hard campaigns. I’ve been very blessed to have a lot of good horses and it’s difficult to have more than two good campaigns with any horse. This mare has come back and won Grade I’s this year and I see no reason why she wouldn’t be champion older mare. She didn’t win the Breeders’ Cup, but she’s been good to us. She’s won two championships and maybe three, and won a couple of Breeders’ Cups. It’s not a bad career.
“Maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s time.”
Did the pace have anything to do with it? “The pace always has something to do with it. If they let us go on the lead all by ourselves, sure, that makes a difference.
“This year it looks like they sent Authenticity pretty good for a good reason, Maybe they accomplished what they needed to.
“I think Gary (jockey Stevens on the winner Beholder) had the plan to wait and make a little run. She did and his filly ran a tremendous race.
Mott on Close Hatches: “She ran very good. She was kind of under the radar there.
Joel Rosario (jockey, Close Hatches, 2nd) – “She ran big today. She broke well and put me in the race. I was tracking the leader (Authenticity) because it looked like she was going well. When I called on my filly at the 3/8th pole, I thought I had a good chance, but Gary’s horse (Beholder) had another gear.”
Todd Pletcher (trainer, Authenticity, 3rd and Princess of Sylmar, 6th) – “Authenticity ran her race. She ran well. She fought hard for third and I thought she ran a really good race.
“She (Princess of Sylmar) kind of stumbled leaving the starting gate and broke out awkwardly and kind of went down a little bit. She came away well last, not exactly where you want to be on this track for sure. He (jockey Javier Castellano) said she didn’t get over the track at all and struggled with the surface throughout.”
John Velazquez (jockey, Authenticity, 3rd) – “She ran a really good race. It kind of changed her style of running to go to the lead, but the lead was there so we took it.”
Mike Smith (jockey, Royal Delta, 4th) – “She didn’t have it today. No spark, man. Early on, I knew it. She usually takes the race to somebody, but not today. I thought when Beholder come up to her, she would pick it up, but she didn’t. I asked and I asked and nothing. I’m kind of dumbfounded”.
“I can’t be disappointed (in my day) and we’ve got a bunch of good ones tomorrow.”
Angel Castillo (jockey, Street Girl, 5th) – “We dropped back like we wanted to let the speed go on. Our filly tried all the way. She never gave up. Next year, she’ll be much better.”
Manny Azpurua (trainer, Street Girl, 5th) – “I believe the race for my filly was a good race. She ran against the best fillies in the country for the first time. I believe she is a better filly than what she showed today.”
Javier Castellano (jockey, Princess of Sylmar, 6th) – “She stumbled really bad at the gate. I blame the track. It’s all speed, speed, speed and unfair to come-from-behind horses. Unfortunatley, she didn’t handle the track at all. She was spinning her wheels. Usually at the half-mile pole, she pulls, and today she didn’t pull at all.”