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HRN Original Blog:
Past the Grandstand

New Golden Era of Racing, Part One: Beholder

Beholder Adoration16 615 X 400
Photo: Benoit Photo


When American Pharoah galloped into history and, like the first rainfall at the end of a long drought, became the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years, racing fans got a taste of “the good ol’ days.” But when he crossed the wire for the final time and captured the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Keeneland, fans had to wonder how long they would have to wait to witness another all-time great.


It turns out that they would not have to wait long; in fact, they had already witnessed the making of a couple greats at that very Breeders’ Cup. As American Pharoah retired to stallion duty at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud, he left the door open for a number of Thoroughbreds to continue what appears to be the modern golden era of American horse racing.


Although American Pharoah accomplished the feat for which the racing world had been waiting nearly four decades, he was not the first all-time great the sport has witnessed in recent years. The twelfth Triple Crown winner came on the heels of the likes of Curlin, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, and Wise Dan. Though all of these horses, American Pharoah included, are now enjoying retirement, this new golden age lives on.


Through the first eight months of 2016, a number of horses have contributed to a brilliant year of racing already. In this brief new series, I will feature these horses individually and separately – the ones that have the potential to be considered all-time greats, or that have even already reached that status.


Part One: Beholder


This daughter of Henny Hughes is certainly not new to the scene. Now six-years-old, Beholder was named the 2012 Eclipse Champion Two-Year-Old Filly after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and the 2013 Eclipse Champion Three-Year-Old Filly after winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. She raced only three times in 2014, but won two of those starts – including the Zenyatta Stakes (gr. I) – and was unable to defend her Breeders’ Cup Distaff title due to fever.


The already two-time Eclipse champion came back in 2015 stronger than ever, reeling off three victories – including a grade one – against her own sex before effortlessly defeating the males by 8 ¼ lengths in near-track record fashion in the Pacific Classic (gr. I). After repeating in the Zenyatta with ease, Beholder was slated to face American Pharoah in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland but yet again, illness prevented her from competing in the year-end championships.


Beholder returned to racing in May, taking the Adoration Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita as though it were a paid workout before winning the Vanity Mile Stakes (gr. I) with nearly as much ease. However, most recently, Beholder was handed her first defeat since June 2014 when 2015 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Stellar Wind outfought her in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (gr. I).


Although Beholder’s eight-race winning streak has come to an end, her overall accomplishments speak to her greatness. Thus far, Beholder has competed in 23 races, winning 17 and finishing second in four. Her lone two starts outside the state of California have resulted in losses, but this does not detract from her brilliance. In the first of those starts, the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Beholder became unsettled in the post parade to the point where she fell and unseated her jockey – only to bump with a rival at the start. Despite these troubles, she ran a top-notch race to finish second – beaten only a half-length by Princess of Sylmar, who would go on to win three more grade ones. Her only other start outside of California resulted in a fourth place effort in Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park in 2014. Although she finished off the board, she managed to finish less than two lengths behind the winner despite suffering a severely deep cut that sidelined her; she would not race again for three and a half months.


Altogether, Beholder’s resume is spectacular. Up to this point, the six-year-old mare has won ten grade ones – including two Breeders’ Cup races – and taken home three Eclipse Awards. She is the only horse to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and Distaff in consecutive years, and the first mare to win the Pacific Classic. She has won at the grade one level at ages two, three, four, five, and six. Regardless of what the rest of this mare’s career holds, Beholder has earned herself a place in the history books.

 

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About Mary Cage

 

Mary with champion Classic Empire

Mary Cage, a 21-year-old avid fan of horse racing, has been around horses all her life, having owned, shown, and judged them for as long as she can remember. She began writing her own horse racing blog, Past the Grandstand, in August 2011 and has since been published in America's Horse, American Racehorse and the Appaloosa Journal, as well as with the websites of The Blood-Horse and The Equine Chronicle. She has also had photos published with Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Daily News. In addition, she works as one of the social media coordinators for the Texas Thoroughbred Association and is currently interning at WinStar Farm with a marketing focus - with projects involving photography, videography, giving tours, data entry, etc. 


In her personal horse experience, Mary has been around horses all her life and has won several Appaloosa National Champion and Reserve World Champion titles in the show ring. She has also worked as a hotwalker and groom.


Mary has always aspired to have a career with horses and since her love for horse racing began, she has dreamed of pursuing a career in the Thoroughbred racing industry, possibly as a writer/photographer and marketing/communications specialist. She is currently attending the University of North Texas, where she is a journalism major with a concentration in advertising and a minor in marketing. With this blog, she hopes to show readers horse racing through the eyes of a young fan and transport you to some of racing's biggest events through her photos and words.

University of Louisville College of Business Equine Program

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