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HRN Original Blog:
Toasting with Andrew Champagne

Behold! The Champion Returns

Five and a half months removed from a tour de force in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Beholder will make her 4-year-old debut Sunday.
The two-time Eclipse Award-winner will go postward in the Santa Lucia Stakes, along with six other fillies and mares. The group will go 1 1/16 miles on the Great Race Place’s main track, and the champ will carry a highweight of 123 pounds (conceding six to the other runners, who will tote 117 pounds apiece).
Beholder has finished worse than second just once, and it was in her career debut. Her award-winning campaign last year featured four Grade 1 victories, including her Distaff win over Princess of Sylmar and Royal Delta, among others. On paper, this is her race to lose. She has won six of seven career starts in Arcadia, and the Richard Mandella-trained daughter of Henny Hughes has a series of consistent works to her credit. Additionally, regular rider Gary Stevens, who called Beholder one of the smartest horses he’d ever ridden after her most recent triumph, will be aboard.

That said, there is ample talent lining up against her, and the most popular alternative for bettors looking to beat Beholder may be kin to another star female. Eblouissante, Zenyatta’s half-sister, will attempt the upset for the John Shirreffs barn. She was second in her return from a long layoff last out, and her worktab boasts consistent longer moves that could signify an improvement off her most recent outing.

Also in the field is Magic Union. John Sadler’s filly has not won since last summer at Del Mar, but her last attempt was a strong second-place finish in the Grade 2 Azeri at Oaklawn Park. The winner that day was the classy Close Hatches, who returned to capture the Apple Blossom last week.

Legacy, Moulin de Mougin, City At Dawn, and Irish Presence complete the field, which will be sent on their way at 4 p.m. Pacific time Sunday afternoon. It’s the feature on Santa Anita’s Easter Sunday card, one that consists of nine races.


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Older Comments about Behold! The Champion Returns...

Yeah, I don't see her being upset like the Dude was yesterday. HRTV pointed out this morning that half the field are mainly turf runners trying dirt. A lot of people will be singling her in their exotics. I just hope she gets a good workout for her Phipps race in June.
Don't think they will be beating Beholder at Santa Anita today. We'll see in NY on Belmont Stakes Day.


Meet Andrew Champagne


A native of upstate New York and a graduate of Ithaca College, Andrew Champagne fell in love with horse racing at a very early age on summer trips to Saratoga. His turf writing credits include time spent as a sportswriter, weekly columnist, and handicapper at The Saratogian, a summer working for The Saratoga Special, and "field research" at OTB facilities in Saratoga Springs and his hometown of Kingston. He also spent two years in the athletic communications office at Siena College, and interned with NBC Olympics at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

Andrew moved to Pasadena, Calif., in October of 2013, and now serves as an Associate Producer in HRTV's Digital Media department and Horse Racing Nation's Southern California writer. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewChampagne, and email him at andrewdchampagne@gmail.com.