JC / Railbird

Beholder

#BC16 Links, Etc.

Beholder for the Distaff!

Breeders’ Cup 2016 is here! And I have links: First, to the big HANA Monthly Breeders’ Cup issue (PDF). Stats, Q&As, and my Distaff pick (clue in the photo above). Then, to the Hello Race Fans BC Friday picks grid. Look for HD replays of every BC race on the 2016 Breeders’ Cup YouTube playlist. Replays should be up within minutes after each race.

I’m hanging out on Twitter and Instagram this weekend, live from Santa Anita.

11/5/16 Update: And Breeders’ Cup Saturday picks are up.

Two Champions

Beholder turns into the stretch in the 2016 Vanity Stakes at Santa Anita

The Vanity Mile Stakes was never really a contest. Mike Watchmaker on how Beholder handled 3-year-old filly champion Stellar Wind on Saturday:

Stellar Wind ran extremely well. She was dead game, and she is very, very good. But Beholder absolutely toyed with her. Toyed with her. Anyone who watched the Vanity knows the difference between Beholder and Stellar Wind on Saturday was far greater than what the result chart suggests.

Beholder earned a Beyer speed figure of 100 for her 17th career win, her 10th Grade 1 victory. After the first three quarters in 1:12.53, she ran the last two furlongs in :11.46 and :11.98. “I thought we would go in sub 23, 45 and change for the second quarter and I thought the final time would be under 1:34,” said jockey Gary Stevens. “Twenty five is legit, 49 is legit, but I think that’s the fastest last three eighths I’ve ever run in my life.”

Behold the Sure Thing

Beholder circles on the Santa Anita track as she waits to enter the winner's circle after the Zenyatta Stakes

The easiest 10 cents you could make in racing on Saturday:

It was such a certainty that Beholder would win the $300,000 Grade I Zenyatta Stakes that by the time she had cruised to a 3 1/4-length triumph over second-place My Sweet Addiction at odds of 1-9, Santa Anita was figuring out how much money it had lost. There was a $75,708.52 minus show pool and $4,750.12 minus place pool. Beholder returned $2.10 to win, place and show after finishing the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:42.83.

I cannot wait for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Beholder Preps for Phipps

With rider Gary Stevens up, Beholder worked a mile in 1:40.20 at Santa Anita on Monday in preparation for the June 7 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park. Trainer Richard Mandella got her in “1:38 and change,” and apparently, thought she looked so good that he “did a giddy jig afterward,” reports Jay Privman. Marcie Heacox observed her recent afternoon schooling:

Beholder schooled in a new way — without a pony but with a saddle and regular exercise rider David Nuesch. Like previous schooling sessions, she wore a hood to block noise, and Racing Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella distracted her with peppermints. The team put the saddle on soon after she arrived at the paddock, and Nuesch mounted a few minutes before she exited, but she didn’t react to either change. She usually goes crazy at some point during schooling, but this time she behaved absolutely perfectly.

Sounds like she’s physically and mentally in the same shape as she was before winning last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and ready to meet Princess of Sylmar and Apple Blossom winner Close Hatches on their home turf.

Bigger and Badder

Brad Free (DRF+):

Beholder is better this year and poised for a super season. Not because she won her comeback over soft foes with a 98 Beyer. It is because she is stronger and more robust than last year when her Breeders’ Cup Distaff romp clinched a second championship …

The Phipps is going to be a great race.

Oaks Reprise

Jon White surveys the likely Odgen Phipps field:

The 2013 Kentucky Oaks field was considered one of the best ever. The five fillies listed above as candidates for the Phipps all ran in last year’s Kentucky Oaks. Princess of Sylmar won at 38-1. Beholder finished second at 9-1 after acting up and unseating Garrett Gomez prior to the start. Dreaming of Julia finished fourth as the 3-2 favorite after she “got annihilated at the start” and “got stopped later in the race,” according to Todd Pletcher, the filly’s trainer. Midnight Lucky finished fifth at 7-2, which has been her only loss in four career starts to date. Close Hatches finished seventh at 7-1.

Amazing. Unlimited Budget, third in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks, hasn’t been mentioned among the Phipps possibles, but she is still running, finishing second in the G3 Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream last month.

Getting Started

Beholder

Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Beholder returns on Sunday (DRF+):

Mandella considers the Santa Lucia to be a prep for the $1 million Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park on June 7. With that in mind, Mandella said Beholder is not 100 percent ready for the Santa Lucia.

“I don’t think she’s ready for her best, but I didn’t plan it that way,” he said. “I think she’ll get enough out of this to do what we want to do. I haven’t tightened the belt. I’d have a strong mile in her if I wanted her at her best.”

Even not fully cranked, and giving six pounds, Beholder may still just outclass her rivals — she is the only stakes winner in the field. But if there’s a returning champion who’s statistically vulnerable, it’s a reigning 3-year-old filly champ: 74% return, 87% are favored in their first start of the year, and only 32% win.

4/20/14 Update: Wow. You expect a champion to return well, but Beholder made winning the Santa Lucia look like the easiest gallop. Watch the replay:

Nice bit of detail in the Brisnet race recap: “Beholder … was content to bide her time in second as Legacy set splits of :23 2/5 and :47, then began whittling away at that rival’s advantage under her own power.”

4/21/14 Update: Beholder gets a Beyer speed figure of 98 for the Santa Lucia, and now she’ll point to the June 7 Ogden Phipps at Belmont, the same target as Princess of Sylmar and Apple Blossom winner Close Hatches. We have a rivalry: “Beholder looked fantastic in her return, Belmont day will be some race,” owner Spendthrift Farm tweeted. “Princess of Sylmar is looking forward to Beholder visiting the Big Apple. Great for the game!,” Edward Stanco replied.