Beholder won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2012 (above) and became the first horse to complete the Juvenile Fillies-Breeders' Cup Distaff double in 2013. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)
One of the top 3-year-old fillies this year, Beholder made a case for winning her second straight Eclipse award on Nov. 1 when she won the Breeders' Cup Distaff.
The filly was last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner, and after a victory in September’s Zenyatta Stakes she earned her way into the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Distaff where she took on some of the best females in American racing. With her win in the 2013 Distaff, she became the first horse to pull off the Juvenile Fillies-Distaff double since the Breeders’ Cup started in 1984.
As a 2-year-old, Beholder was immediately thrown into a rivalry when defeated by Executiveprivilege in her debut. The two ran into each other two more times in 2012 with Executiveprivilege winning the Del Mar Debutante by a nose over Beholder after Beholder hit the gate at the start.
But the key showdown came in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies when Beholder beat her rival in the 1 1/16-mile race. The race earned her the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly and highlighted her as the best filly going into the 2013 season.
While Beholder lost her season debut, she has subsequently put together a nearly perfect record in 2013. Her only other loss came in the Kentucky Oaks where the filly was unsettled by the crowd, dumping jockey Garrett Gomez in the post parade before finishing second by a half-length to Princess of Sylmar.
She earned a well-deserved break after the Oaks and came back in the Torrey Pines Stakes. When looking at her chart, don’t let it deceive you. The margin of victory was just 2 ¾ lengths but that was with new jockey Gary Stevens just letting her gallop out. If someone is looking for an example of a paid workout, the Torrey Pines is the perfect example.
BEHOLDER COASTED TO VICTORY IN THE TORREY PINES STAKES
Benoit & Associates photo
Surprisingly, the same paid workout idea goes for the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes as well. Stevens was back aboard and didn’t move on the filly until the top of the stretch. At that point, he urged her a little bit but the whip was never used. While the Torrey Pines was a light field and should have been that easy, the Zenyatta was a stacked field. Every horse in the field had won a stakes race with six boasting graded stakes victories and three owning Grade 1 wins. Sure, there was no Royal Delta in there, but this was about as good as you can get in the female division.
“She’s particular about what she wants, and as long as she gets it she’s easy to deal with,” Stevens said. “When she swaps leads coming off the turn, she lunges and it’s like she covers two lengths of what a normal stride is. I haven’t got close to the bottom of her yet. Maybe there’s not as much there as I think, but it feels like there is still another gear.”
The Zenyatta was Beholder’s second-highest Equibase Speed Figure with her highest, a 116, coming in a six-furlong allowance race last year.
Beholder had to stretch out another sixteenth of a mile for the Breeders’ Cup, but that wasn't an issue. Going into the race, people looked at the Kentucky Oaks as an indication that she may not be able to get the distance but that didn't prove to be true. Her second in the Kentucky Oaks was a quality effort that could have been even better had she not acted up beforehand. The filly nearly fell over in the post parade when having a panic attack, which should have killed any chance she had. Instead, Beholder was narrowly beaten. If they ran that race again without the prerace freak out, there’s a big chance the result would have been different.
By Grade 1 sprinter Henny Hughes, Beholder will probably hit a wall when it comes to distance sooner rather than later. Henny Hughes is still a younger sire with only four crops to race but with a sprinter as a sire, odds are that Henny Hughes won’t be a major source of stamina in his foals.
Beholder’s dam, Leslie’s Lady, doesn’t bring much stamina to the table either. Born in 1996, Leslie’s Lady could only win from five to 6 ½ furlongs with her optimum distance coming at about 5 ½ to six furlongs.
Leslie’s Lady did also produce Into Mischief, who like his half-sister won at up to 1 1/16 miles. But for all intents and purposes, Leslie’s Lady is more of a sprint influence as well.
Beholder has a pretty strong female family with stakes winners in each of her first four generations, including Grade 1 winner Roanoke under her fourth dam. The filly is definitely full of class and should be as big of a threat at 1 1/8 miles as she is at the shorter distances.
Beholder will be returning as a 4-year-old and trainer Richard Mandella has some new challenges in mind for the filly. If Mandella sticks to his pre-Distaff challenges, it is possible that Beholder will attempt to take on the female turf division at least once in 2014.