Champion mare Beholder went through a business-like workout Sunday morning at Del Mar, covering seven furlongs in company in 1:27 under gray skies with regular rider Gary Stevens at the controls and trainer Richard Mandella looking on.
Del Mar clockers gave the husky bay splits of :25 3/5, :51 1/5, 1:03 and 1:14 4/5 en route to her final clocking. She worked together with a well-bred 3-year-old maiden named Saltini from the Mandella barn at about 7:50 a.m. on an empty racetrack. Del Mar racing officials had cleared the track between 7:45 and 8 a.m. for her and other likely runners for the July 30 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes, just as they had the day before for California Chrome and other candidates for next Saturday’s San Diego Handicap.
Hall of Famer Stevens, who has ridden the daughter of Henny Hughes 12 times and come away a winner in 11 of them, started Beholder out about four lengths behind her workmate approaching the six furlong marker, then cruised behind her through the far turn. Saltini shifted out and off the rail inside the quarter pole and Stevens and Beholder took the inside route to draw even at the eighth pole. With just minimal encouragement from her rider, Beholder steadily pulled away through the lane and was several lengths ahead as she crossed the wire. The 6-year-old continued her drill on through to the seven furlong marker, while her workmate was finished at the wire. Saltini was given a final time of 1:15 4/5.
“She’s ready to run,” Hall of Famer Mandella said after the drill. “We weren’t trying to invent anything today. We just wanted to get some good wind in her and we did that. I think she’s as good as ever.”
If Mandella is correct in that assumption, his words carry heavy weight. The Kentucky-bred owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm has won 17 of her 22 starts and more than $ 4.7 million in purses. She was champion 2-year-old filly in 2012, champion 3-year-old filly in 2013 and then – after a 2014 season that saw her race only three times due to various problems — champion older mare in 2015. She is currently on a seven-race win streak.
Besides the Hirsch, which is a Grade I mile and one-sixteenth that she captured last year, Beholder is again being pointed toward Del Mar’s signature race, the $ 1-million TVG Pacific Classic on August 20. Last year in it she and Stevens womanhandled a field of nine males by better than eight lengths in a powerhouse performance. This time around, however, the TVG Pacific Classic challenge could be a fair bit stronger: Champion male California Chrome is being pointed for the same race and the flashy chestnut is back in top form and on the muscle. Racing fans from coast to coast are all abuzz in anticipation of one of the potentially great male vs. female match ups.
Another likely Clement L. Hirsch runner, the Hronis Brothers’ Stellar Wind, worked earlier in the morning for trainer John Sadler. Drilling in company before 7 a.m., last year’s 3-year-old filly Eclipse Award winner went seven furlongs in 1:25 2/5. She worked with the 5-year-old maiden mare Carnival Lights and, like Beholder, Stellar Wind went “seven from the six,” meaning she started her work at the six furlong pole, then continued out one furlong past the finish line.
Stellar Wind chased Beholder home in their most recent start, the Grade I Vanity at Santa Anita on June 4.
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