Gary Stevens: “She’s the best thing I ever have ridden or ever will”
PICTURE: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
By Nicholas Godfrey 11:19AM 5 JUN 2016
Report: USA, Saturday
Santa Anita: Vanity Mile (Grade 1) 1m, dirt, 3yo+
TRIPLE champion Beholder (Richard Mandella/Gary Stevens) took her Grade 1 tally into double figures on Saturday when she beat last year’s champion three-year-old filly Stellar Wind in the Vanity Mile.
Cutting back to the one-mile trip for the first time in three years, the six-year-old sat just off a crawling early pace (early splits of 25.03s and 49.31s) before taking control at the head of the stretch before recording a totally bloodless victory by a length and a half.
Gary Stevens, who did not have to move on Beholder, paid tribute to the filly. “She’s like family to me,” he said. “She’s very special to me. She’s the best thing I ever have ridden, or I ever will ride. I’m blessed to be on her back.”
Beholder, who was sent off a 1-5 chance, stopped the clock at 1m35.97s.
“If someone told me before the race that we would go 25s for the first quarter, I would say ‘no way,'” Stevens said. “I thought we would go in sub-23s, 45 and change for the second, and I thought the final time would be under 1m34s.”
Beholder has now won 13 of her 14 starts at Santa Anita, among them Breeders’ Cup victories in both her two- and three-year-old seasons.
“She continues to amaze us all,” said trainer Richard Mandella. “There was a time when we didn’t think she’d go long. She seems to adjust to what we’re doing. I’m lucky to experience something that very few people in history have – to have a great horse this long.
“Good horses come along, and there are a few great ones, but to be great and stay great, it really is special.”
The Breeders’ Cup Classic is Beholder’s main target for 2016. She missed the race last year owing to a shipping fever.
Also on Saturday
Santa: Anita: Shoemaker Mile (Grade 1) 1m, turf, 3yo +
Last year’s runner-up Midnight Storm (Phil d’Amato/Rafael Bejarano) went one better by making all, holding off Tourist to win by a half-length. The Shoemaker is a ‘Win and You’re In’ race for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, which is the winner’s target.
Penn National: Penn Mile (Grade 3) 1m, turf, 3yo
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf winner Catch A Glimpse (Mark Casse/Florent Geroux) made all to land her seventh straight race with a comfortable victory as she faced males for the first time in this $ 500,000 event.