The champ is back. Beholder
, Eclipse Champion 2-year-old filly for
2012, made amends for an odds-on flop in the Grade II Santa Ynez Stakes
on Jan. 21 with a powerful gate to wire win in Saturday’s Grade I Las
Virgenes Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Santa Anita, winning by 3 ¾
lengths under Garrett Gomez while negotiating one mile in 1:36.14.
Trained by Richard Mandella and owned by B. Wayne Hughes’
Spendthrift Farm LLC, Beholder exited the Santa Ynez with what was
diagnosed as a throat ulcer, which no doubt inhibited her breathing.
“It bothered her a lot,” said Mandella. “Imagine trying to run
with a sore in your throat. Everything she did today was great. She’s a
great filly. We’ll enjoy this today, but plans are for her to run next
in the Santa Anita Oaks (Grade I, 1 1/16 miles, April 6).”
Breaking from post position five in an eight-horse field,
Beholder, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Henny Hughes, established a
one-length advantage into the Club House turn and remained clear through
fractions of 23.78, 47.55, 1:11.19 and 1:23.39.
“It was a whole different feeling today,” said Gomez. “She did
everything beautiful. She traveled beautifully, when I asked her to
quicken, she quickened. I couldn’t have asked her to do anything better
for me. She’s back!”
Beholder paid $3.60, $2.40 and $2.10. With the winner’s share
of $150,000, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner increased
her earnings to $1,395,000 from a record of 7-4-2-0.
Runner-up Fiftyshadesofhay sat second to the winner throughout
and was the only other horse in single digits, off at 9-5 under Rafael
“I tried to go to the lead, but the favorite just had so much
speed,” said Bejarano. “She’s a nice horse and I did the best I could.”
Fiftyshadesofhay, who finished 1 ½ lengths in front of Scarlet Strike, paid $2.80 and $2.40.
Off at 12-1, Scarlet Strike, ridden by Mike Smith, had two
horses beat going into the first turn and rallied from next to last
leaving the half mile pole to finish third, three quarters of a length
in front of Heir Kitty and Julien Leparoux.
“I had a great trip,” said Smith. “No excuses. I was hoping
for a little more pace up front, but other than that, she ran extremely
Scarlet Strike paid $3.20 to show.
Both Mandella and Gomez picked up their second career wins in the Las Virgenes, which was run for the 31st time.
Run as Saturday’s sixth race, the Las Virgenes is the first of
three Grade I offerings at Santa Anita, with the Frank E. Kilroe Mile
(turf) carded as the ninth and the Santa Anita Handicap slotted as the