Ce Ce serves notice with runaway Beholder Mile win at Santa Anita

Ce Ce serves notice with runaway Beholder Mile win at Santa Anita
Photo: Benoit Photo

Bo Hirsch's homebred Ce Ce stamped herself as a serious filly when running away from odds-on favorite Hard Not to Love in the stretch to win Saturday's Grade 1, $400,000 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita Park.

With Victor Espinoza in the irons, Ce Ce stalked Hard Not To Love on the outside as the favorite took the field through fractions of :22.63 and :45.72 for the opening half mile. Ce Ce began to make up ground on the second turn and drew to even terms with Hard Not to Love when reaching the quarter pole in 1:10.36.

From that point, it was no match.

Ce Ce continued on strongly under Espinoza and drew off to win by 3 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:37.33. She paid $10.40 as the third choice in the wagering. Hard Not to Love, who went off at 3-5, held off Grade 1 winner Ollie's Candy for second.

"I decided to take her back a little bit, and it was just nice and comfortable on the outside," Espinoza said. "Then at the three-eighths [pole] I said ‘Ok that’s enough. I can’t babysit her anymore.’ So I gave her just a little nudge...then down the lane she was pretty much in control."

Trained by Michael McCarthy, Ce Ce returned from more than eight months on the sidelines to win a Santa Anita allowance on Feb. 17. A lightly-raced 4-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality, Ce Ce was went to the sidelines after shipping east and running fourth in Acorn (G1) last summer at Belmont Park. She now sports a record of 3-1-0 from five starts.

“Victor was able to keep her face clean,” McCarthy said.  “…I’ve always thought she really good.  Last spring, I thought she beat any kind.  Unfortunately, she got hurt after the Acorn, which made us take a step back and take some time off.  She has come back and hasn’t missed a beat.  I can’t thank Bo enough for letting us take our time and pick our spots.”

Ce Ce is out of Grade 1 winner Miss Houdini, by Belong to Me, who was also bred by Hirsch. 

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