JC / Railbird


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


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.

After →