The 2016 season has been a tough one for Beholder and her trainer Richard Mandella. Everything started off perfectly as she crushed the fields at the Vanity Stakes and the Adoration. But then something happened to the champion mare that’s never happened before – she lost three consecutive races.
Beholder surrendered victories to Stellar Wind at the Clement Hirsch and the Zenyatta, but also lost decisively to California Chrome at the Pacific in between. It’s an unprecedented mark in her incredible career, but Mandella seems unfazed by her recent results. Posting some ridiculous times at Santa Anita ahead of the Breeders’ Cup helps quell any concerns.
Overseeing the action at Santa Anita this week, Mandella witnessed his star trainee hit fractions of :11 1/5, :22 2/5, :34 1/5, and :46 3/5, with the final time for five-furlongs being :59 1/5. That’s business as usual for Beholder, who almost always trains at an intensely fast pace. “Couldn’t look better. Period,” Mandella said. “This was the serious one. The next one will be a little easier.”
Jockey Gary Stevens was in town for the work and couldn’t have been happier. “She’s really happy and in a good spot mentally. We were rolling. Those were some pretty serious fractions, and she picked up just coming into the straight and I snugged her up. Mandella was looking for a minute and we went a bit better than a minute, so that was plenty for today.”
At the beginning of the season, Beholder was pointed towards the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but her connections have no redirected her to the Distaff where she’ll face Stellar Wind for a fourth time. It will also mark the first meeting between her and Songbird, the undefeated three-year old filly who has been setting tracks on fire all summer. The Distaff is unquestionably one of the most anticipated events at the world champions in a few weeks time, and Mandella will have Beholder ready to repeat at an event she won back in 2013.