Photo: Don August
Trainer Richard Mandella and Jockey Gary
Stevens were back in the winner’s circle at Santa Anita Race Track when
Beholder ran off to a four and a quarter length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. For Mandella
this was his first victory in the Distaff. Ten years ago he won four Breeders’
Cup races at the Great Race Place.
Fifty year-old Stevens
added to his comeback year by winning his ninth Breeders’ Cup race. He was last
victorious in 2000 in the Mile with War Chant.
The 2013 Distaff featured
the best fillies and mares in the nation with Royal Delta, Princess of Sylmar,
Close Hatches, and Beholder. Between them had won 11 grade one races this year.
On a racetrack that had been favoring front runners all day long, the battle
between the best did not materialize as Beholder
made the victory look very easy.
At the start of the race Authenticity held the early lead on the
rail with Royal Delta just outside
of her. Beholder sat on the outside of Royal Delta’s hip. The early fractions
were a very reasonable :22.78 and :46.30. After the half mile Royal Delta
became to fade without any pressure from rider Mike Smith and at the same time
Beholder began to accelerate.
After six furlongs in
1:10.28 the race was basically decided. Javier Castellano asked Princess of Sylmar for run, but had got
no response. Castellano said, “She stumbled really bad at the gate. I
blame the track. It’s all speed, speed, speed and unfair to
come-from-behind horses. Unfortunatley, she didn’t handle the track at
all. She was spinning her wheels. Usually at the half-mile pole,
she pulls, and today she didn’t pull at all.”
Mandella talked about
Beholder’s performance, “We trained her this way (to run from off the pace.) We’ve just
never had to use it before. She’s so naturally fast, you don’t have to
train that into her and she’s made the lead so easily in many of her
races. Today, she had to come from off of it and she did it – and boy do
I love it. I’ve been lucky enough to have many good mares in my years of
training, but this mare might have to be the best of all.”
Beholder’s very impressive win in the Distaff the only question that remains is
whether today she also won the three year filly championship.