Preparing for a title defense run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, Spendthrift Farm's Beholder took over under a hand ride at the top of the stretch and held off longshot Tiz Midnight to win the Grade 1, $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.
Tiz Midnight was the pacesetter throughout but re-rallied to get second. Iotapa, who broke slowly, finished third. Final time for the mile and a sixteenth event was 1:42.19.
Eclipse champion in both her two and three year old seasons, Beholder was a winner of this race last year before going on to dominate the Breeders' Cup Distaff. This year, Beholder won the listed Santa Lucia Stakes in April before finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps behind Close Hatches.
The Richard Mandella trainee has now won 10 of 15 lifetime starts. Mike Smith was in the irons to ride the filly for the first time.
“She felt great, really good,” said Smith. “We were worried about her getting a little tired. We were hoping we could get a bit tired but still win in hand but I had to ride her a little. The second-place mare, Tiz Midnight, is a race-fit mare. She's run twice down at Del Mar and ran impressively so she was the kind of mare that would probably push us today. She made us do a little more than we thought we were going to have to. It could be a blessing in disguise as well because we certainly needed a good race like that.”
When asked if Beholder was slowing down a bit towards the end, Mandella referenced a work near the end of the Del Mar meet where she re-opened an injury sustained in the Ogden Phipps.
“I've got to watch the rerun. I think she was getting a little tired,” Mandella said. “You guys read that in her big work at Del Mar before the end of the meet she split that injury open. We had to put five stitches in it again to try and heal it a second time. She missed a week's training and was just able to get ready in time for this race. Most horses could not have gotten ready.”
“I couldn't be happier than to have her back like this, and this race ought to put her ready to go for the Breeders' Cup.”
Bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm, Beholder is by Henny Hughes, who now stands in Japan, and out of the Tricky Creek mare Leslie's Lady, making her a half-sister to successful sire Into Mischief. She sold as a yearling at Keeneland September in 2011 for $180,000.
Yahilwa and Wittgenstein rounded out the order of finish. Tiz the Key was scratched.
View the full Equibase chart here.
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