Reigning Eclipse Champion filly Beholder
, fresh off a facile win in
the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes March 2, looms a complete standout in
Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Santa Anita Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at 1
Trained by Richard Mandella, the 2012 Eclipse Juvenile Filly
Champ overcame a throat ulcer and answered her doubters in winning the
one mile Las Virgenes by 3 ¾ lengths at odds of 4-5-thereby stamping
herself as an early favorite for the Grade I Kentucky Oaks on May 3.
Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Henny
Hughes lacked her customary zip and ran a disappointing second as the
heavy favorite in the Grade II, 6 ½ furlong Santa Ynez Stakes Jan. 21,
but she made every pole a winning one in the Las Virgenes.
With three graduated works on her tab since her Las Virgenes
tally, Beholder seems primed for a top effort as she’ll break from the
outside post in a field of six.
The complete field for the Santa Anita Oaks, to be run as the
fifth race on an 11-race Santa Anita Derby Day card from the rail out,
with comment and jockeys, is as follows:
BLACK WITCH Martin Garcia
One of two Bob Baffert-trained entrants, this Kentucky-bred
daughter of Majestic Warrior comes off a 4-length maiden special weight
win going a mile on March 14. Owned by Mercedes Stable LLC, she has
been favored in three of her four starts.
In breaking her maiden, she pressed the pace and took command
going to the far turn at odds of 6-5 under Rafael Bejarano. Santa
Anita’s leading jockey opts for Baffert’s Fiftyshadesofhay in the Oaks,
so Black Witch will be reunited with Martin Garcia, who rode her in her
first three starts.
SPELLBOUND Victor Espinoza
In search of her third consecutive win, Spellbound’s two wins at
the meet have come from off the pace going one mile. The “other
Mandella” in the field, the Kentucky-bred daughter of
Bernardini is on the improve and would appreciate a fast pace. She
retains the services of Victor Espinoza, who has been aboard for both of
Based with Mandella at Santa Anita, Spellbound is owned by
Ramona Bass LLC, Claiborne Farm, and Adele Dilschneider. Her most recent
(allowance) win came on Feb. 24, and she has had three works since.
COULD BE TROUBLE Gary Stevens
California-bred by Ministers Wild Cat, Could Be Trouble was
supplemented by trainer Peter Miller to run against the boys in last
Saturday’s statebred Echo Eddie Stakes at 6 ½ furlongs and is wheeling
back quickly for the Oaks. The second choice at 2-1, Could Be Trouble
took up going to the far turn in the Echo Eddie and never threatened,
running seventh, beaten 11 ½ lengths.
With Garrett Gomez opting for race favorite Beholder, veteran
Gary Stevens will try his hand for the first time as Could Be Trouble
makes her sixth career start and her first beyond 6 ½ furlongs. A
rousing 3 ½ length starter allowance winner on March 15, she earned a 90
Beyer Speed figure in what was her first start for Miller and owners
Altamira Racing Stable, Barber or Wachtel.
Stevens, who won the race four consecutive times, from 1987
through 1990, is in search of his fifth career win in Santa Anita’s
signature race for sophomore fillies.
FIFTYSHADESOFHAY Rafael Bejarano
An impressive 5 ¾ length winner of the Grade III, 1 1/16 miles
Santa Ysabel on Jan. 26, Fiftyshadesofhay was no match for Beholder in
the Las Virgenes and was second, beaten 3 ¾ lengths. Trained by Baffert
and owned by Pegram or Watson or Weitman, should close early under
regular pilot Rafael Bejarano.
The Kentucky-bred daughter of Pulpit has solid two-turn
credentials as she has routed in her last five starts, which have
resulted in two wins and two seconds. A good effort on Saturday could
pave the way for a start in the Kentucky Oaks.
IOTAPA Joe Talamo
Claimed out of a first-out maiden $50,000 win going 4 ½ furlongs
in June, this Kentucky-bred filly by Afleet Alex came back running for
Hronis Racing LLC on Feb. 15, winning a six furlong, first-condition
allowance by three quarters of a length as the 8-5 favorite.
Trained by John Sadler, she has an impressive series of works at
Betfair Hollywood Park since her win and should show plenty of speed
stretching out under new rider Joe Talamo.
BEHOLDER Garrett Gomez
With four wins and two seconds from seven starts and $1,395,000
in earnings, Beholder looks like she could be a 1-5 favorite in the
Oaks. Trainer Richard Mandella has managed her magnificently, evidenced
by her 11-length allowance win prior to winning the Breeders’ Cup
Juvenile Fillies Nov. 2, and her rousing score in the Grade I Las
Virgenes on March 2—following a disappointing second in the Grade II
Santa Ynez Jan. 21.
With her Santa Ynez defeat ascribed to throat ulcers behind her,
it would appear that Beholder is on her way to added glory as the
reigning Eclipse Champion Juvenile Filly of 2012.
Owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, Beholder will get
the services of Garrett Gomez, who has been aboard for all seven
The outside post position should pose no problems as Gomez can
use his filly’s considerable speed according to the way the race sets