Beholder wins for fun in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes

September 28, 2015 02:00am

There are several home court advantages in sports that yield near perfect results. The Green Bay Packers from 1928-1933, the Boston Celtics in the mid-eighties, and the Chicago Bulls of the mid-nineties are a few that come to mind. Currently, teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Golden State Warriors are nearly unbeatable when playing at home. In horse racing, there are a plethora of runners that have had a significant edge at home in what is commonly referred to as the “horse for course” angle. Very few stakes winners have been victorious on their “turf” as frequently as the five-year old star mare Beholder and once again the daughter of Henny Hughes won “under wraps” against a rather ordinary Grade I group in the $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes.

The victory boosted her lifetime record at Santa Anita Park to an incredible 11-for-12 with one-second-place effort. It was the five-year old mare’s third consecutive win in the race formerly known as the Lady’s Secret Stakes and her sixth straight victory overall, dating back to last year’s rendition of the event. My Sweet Addiction ran a game one to finish just three and a quarter lengths back in second. It was five and a half lengths back to Savings Account in third.

It was the Marty Jones conditioned My Sweet Addiction that set a moderate early pace of 23.43 and 47.43, while Tranquility Stakes winner Wild in the Saddle sat second with My Monet saving ground in third. The 1-9 favorite Beholder was forced wide into the first turn and remained three-wide on the backstretch, but without urging the star mare under regular rider Gary Stevens confronted the early pacesetter as they entered the far turn. Despite Mike Smith still having plenty of horse under him on the eventual runner-up, Stevens and Beholder were able to wrest the lead into the stretch and pull away under extremely confident handling in the lane. Saying the “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup event took little out of the Spendthrift Farms owned runner would be quite the understatement.

In post-race commentary, Stevens said, “It couldn’t have gone any better.” Both he and trainer Richard Mandella were concerned about the heat and the daunting task ahead of taking on the males in the $5 million dollar Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 31, and were as much relieved as excited with the Zenyatta Stakes win. As usual the Hall of Fame jockey was extremely complimentary of Beholder calling her “by far the most intelligent animal I’ve ever been around and when I say animal I’m not just talking about horses, she’s so intelligent. She knows what her job is and she enjoys it; she literally loves what she’s doing.” When asked about his thoughts on the outcome of her next race, Stevens said, “I’m not going to make any predictions, but I can’t wait to get to Keeneland.”

Hall of Fame conditioner Richard Mandella was pleased with the outcome as well. He stated, “It really was pretty much what I had hoped for from her. I hate to say ‘easy,’ but it really did look easy.” When asked if she would run next in the Breeders’ Cup Classic against the males he declared, “That would be the plan. Anything can change and nothing’s in stone, but as of now there’s no reason not to think of that.” He continued to say “I’ll spend the next week thinking about when to ship her. I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’ll get a feel for it in a couple days and go from there.

After a few disappointing efforts away from the “Great Race Place,” the daughter of Tiznow, My Sweet Addiction, rebounded well on her “home field.” Having finished in the money in seven of eight starts coming into the Zenyatta, the Pamela Ziebarth owned mare also proved that she is at her at best at Santa Anita with an impressive second place effort. After the race her rider and trainer were extremely pleased with her performance. Jones praised her saying, “She ran her heart out. She just ran into a champion today. The Hall of Famer Smith joked, “I feel like I won….to run second to that mare is really a good thing. I was just proud of the way she acted today.”

After a disappointing effort as the even-money favorite in Del Mar’s Tranquility Lake Stakes, Savings Account rallied to “pick up the pieces” for third. This daughter of Medaglia d’Oro has shown the signs of being a graded stakes type, but has yet to put it altogether for trainer Tom Proctor. She could be one to watch as we move towards the end of 2015 and into 2016. Second choice Warren's Veneda finished a disappointing seventh and never factored in the outcome. It appears that the taxing 2015 calendar has taken its toll on the daughter of Affirmative.

While Beholder has been nearly unbeatable in Southern California it remains to be seen whether she will perform at her best “on the road.” Regardless of whether the connections opt for the Distaff or the Classic, her next race will be away from home in Lexington, Kentucky in the 2015 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. This will be her first race outside of Southern California since a fourth place finish in the Grade I Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park in June of 2014. It certainly should be fun!

The winner finished the mile and one sixteenth journey in a time of 1:42.83. She paid $2.20, $2.10 and $2.10. My Sweet Addiction paid $5.40 and $3.40, while Savings Account paid $5.60 to Show. The winning Trifecta combination of 9-6-2 paid $58.70 on a $1 wager.


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Scott has been a fan of handicapping and following thoroughbred racing since Garden State Park was rebuilt in Cherry Hill, NJ in 1985.  His first memories of the racetrack include the 1985 Jersey Derby won by Spend a Buck and the 1990 Met Mile clash between Easy Goer, Criminal Type and Housebuster, but it was not until his mid to late twenties that Scott became confident he had a knack for picking winners. He points to the summer of 2007 in San Diego while working on a masters degree in American History as the time where he took his handicapping, his communication skills, and his attention to detail to the next level.  It was at this time where he had his first real big score.   He had four of only five winning combinations in the now extinct “Place Pick All” on a $8 ticket netting himself $40,000. 

A few months after hitting a monster pick five at Santa Anita Park in February of 2013, Scott started his website, showcasing his and other experts' selections, as well as analysis and commentary on North American racing. From there, he began writing a weekly column for called "Race of the Week" and soon thereafter started writing for Horse Racing Nation. Currently, he is Horse Racing Nation's Southern California Racing Correspondent and can be found most days at Santa Anita Park or Del Mar Race Course.

Scott loves playing in horse racing tournaments and constructing pick four and pick five tickets.  His favorite all-time horses are Captain Bodgit, A.P. Indy, Fly So Free and Charismatic. He has lived in multiple states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Colorado before returning to Southern California in the middle of 2015 to start "Shapper Da California Capper." 


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