Gary Stevens has ridden Beholder 11 times, winning 10, the last six in a row, all 10 of the victories coming in graded stakes, six of them Grade I’s.
Next up: Saturday’s Grade I Vanity Stakes at Santa Anita, where Beholder has won 12 of 13 races including the Grade I Zenyatta three times, the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Distaff in 2013 and the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2012. The bay daughter of Henny Hughes earned Eclipse Awards at two, three and five.
Now six years old and likely to race next year if all is well according to owner B. Wayne Hughes, who campaigns as Spendthrift Farm, LLC, Beholder has won 16 of 21 career starts and earned $ 4,496,600 under the patient and sagacious guidance of trainer Richard Mandella.
“She’s matured and she is bigger and stronger,” said Stevens, who has been riding regularly in Kentucky the past month. “I don’t know if she’s any faster, but I think she is. I’ve been in Kentucky and I haven’t worked her since before her last race (the Adoration Stakes run on May 8), and that’s kind of been by Richard’s design.
“She started realizing that when I got on her, she’d be getting close to a race, but I’ve been keeping track of her and it looks like Richard’s been filling my rocket booster pretty good.”
Beholder has won her last six races by a combined margin of nearly four lengths, but Stevens notes that “appearance and performance are two different things. The Pacific Classic (an 8 ¼-length romp against males last Aug. 22) looked easy, and it was easy, but Beholder puts a lot into her races.
“Even after the Adoration (a handy two-and-a-half length score against five rivals), she lied down and slept. The races are easy, but that’s one of Richard’s great attributes: he knows what a race takes out of her, and he knows her so well he prepares her properly for each race.
“From what I’ve observed and from what I’ve heard from my friends here whose opinions I respect, I’m really excited about tomorrow. People are already talking about (Beholder running in) the Pacific Classic, but it’s one race at a time. That’s horse racing and I don’t take any of them lightly.”
Beholder worked four furlongs Tuesday in 48.60, breezing, with fractional times of 24.20 and 35.80.
As for Gary’s personal agenda, the 53-year-old Hall of Fame rider has the immediate future mapped out.
“I’ll go back to Kentucky probably Tuesday or Wednesday,” he said. “I’ll ride there and come back sometime before the Triple Bend (June 25) to ride Kobe’s Back. I’ll breeze him here Sunday morning (five furlongs for Peter Eurton).
“I’m enjoying myself in Kentucky, I’m riding races, winning some, and it’s been a good Spring. It’s freshened me up and I’ll be ready for Del Mar.”
Trainer John Sadler, meanwhile, is resigned to the fact that come-backing three-year-old filly champion of 2015 Stellar Wind drew the rail for the Vanity.
“She’s doing well,” Sadler said of Stellar Wind, who has not raced since her second by a neck in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last Oct. 30. “The post is what it is. It’s not the best post, that’s for sure, but she looks good.
“We’ll take her over there and see how it goes tomorrow. It’s a starting off point.”
The Vanity: Stellar Wind, Victor Espinoza, 3-1; Beholder, Gary Stevens, 1-5; Divina Comedia, Joe Talamo, 30-1; Taris, Flavien Prat, 5-1; Lost Bus, Fernando Perez, 20-1; All Star Bub, Rafael Bejarano, 30-1; and Finest City, Tyler Baze, 15-1.
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