Trainer Richard Mandella had been preparing Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder to rate behind horses during her workouts. The morning training paid off in a big way on Nov. 1 when last year’s Eclipse Champion 2-year-old filly likely locked up another championship in winning the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).
Ridden by Gary Stevens, Beholder rated kindly in third behind the early pace set by Authenticity. Race favorite and defending Distaff champ Royal Delta tracked the pacesetter from second before fading out of contention around the far turn.
When the real running began, Beholder swept to the front and opened a clear 3 ½-length advantage in mid-stretch. She crossed the wire a 4 1/4-length winner. Royal Delta’s stablemate Close Hatches outran her 7-1 odds and chased Beholder home to finish second under Joel Rosario. Authenticity held third, and Royal Delta faded to fourth. Beholder covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.77.
“We trained her this way (to run from off the pace.),” said Mandella. “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 has won five of six starts this season. She prepped for the Distaff with an impressive score in the Zenyatta Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Sept. 28. Earlier this year, she finished second to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).
It was the first Breeders’ Cup win for Stevens since he piloted War Chant to victory in the 2000 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Churchill Downs.
“She was a little fractious going into the gate and a little anxious,” said Stevens. “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 then really opened up.”
Trainer Bill Mott on Royal Delta: “He (Mike Smith) tried to get her to go on a little more on the first turn and she didn’t.
“She’d worked very well coming into the race,” he added. “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 1’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.”
Breeders’ Cup photo