On the biggest stage in Friday's $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1), Spendthrift Farm's Beholder delivered the best performance of her stellar career with a devastating 4 1/4-length victory over the likes of two-time Distaff winner Royal Delta and multiple Grade 1 winner Princess of Sylmar.
To go along with her victory in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), Beholder now has the distinction of being the only the second horse to ever win two different Breeders' Cup races. Zenyatta won the 2008 Distaff and 2009 Classic.
Though the Santa Anita main track had been favoring speed throughout the day, Beholder's Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens found himself hung out a bit wide in third going into the first turn of the 1 1/8-mile Distaff. Stevens maintained his spot down the backstretch as Beholder cruised along comfortably behind Authenticity and Royal Delta.
Going into the turn, Beholder coasted past Royal Delta, then engaged Authenticity. That battle was short-lived though, as Beholder was just too much, pulling clear by two lengths at the top of the stretch. Stevens gave the 3-year-old filly a tap of the whip at the head of the lane, and she unleashed an incredible stretch run under a hand ride the rest of the way.
The daughter of Henny Hughes completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:44.77 on a fast track.
“She was a little fractious going into the gate and a little anxious," Stevens noted. "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."
Beholder, who is six for seven over the Santa Anita surface, has learned to relax instead of going right to the front as she has done in quite a few of her previous races.
"We trained her this way," trainer Richard Mandella said of Beholder's newfound ability. "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.”
Beholder raised her career earnings to $3,075,000 with the Distaff winner's share of $1.1 million. With four Grade 1 wins this year, the same amount as Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Princess of Sylmar (who finished last of six in the Distaff), all that now remains to be seen is if Beholder will earn divisional championship honors for the second consecutive year.
Owner B. Wayne Hughes reflected on that possibility in the winner's circle. “You can't be a champ unless you defeat champs, and the runner-ups are champions. I think she's done enough (to be named champion 3-year-old filly).”