Arcadia, Calif. -- Beholder proved to be the star of Friday’s Breeders’ Cup program at Santa Anita, rolling to a convincing 4 1/4-length victory in the $2 million Distaff. With Gary Stevens in the saddle, the bay filly settled into third as Authenticity and Royal Delta wheeled along up front into the first turn. She advanced into contention along the backstretch and then took over on the far turn.
The Spendthrift Farm color-bearer was never asked for her best while striding away from the competition in the stretch run. Trained by Richard Mandella, who pocketed his eighth career Breeders’ Cup win, Beholder made a serious case for champion 3-year-old filly with the dynamic performance.
A front-running specialist, Beholder changed tactics while sitting just off the early action.
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“We trained her this way (to run from off the pace),” Mandella said. “We’ve just never had to use it before. She’s so naturally fast, you don’t have to train that into her and she’s made the lead so easily in many of her races.
“Today, she had to come from off of it – and boy do I love it.”
The daughter of Henny Hughes extracted a measure of revenge upon Princess of Sylmar, who edged her by a half-length in the Kentucky Oaks earlier this year. Princess of Sylmar entered the Distaff off of four consecutive Grade 1 victories but never fired while finishing last of six runners.
Beholder tallied her third consecutive stakes victory, and sixth of her career, and the outstanding filly has now earned $3,075,000 from a 12-8-3-0 record.
“This is the best race she’s ever run,” Stevens said. “I was hoping Authenticity would carry the lead a little further but (Beholder) moved up nice, went by hear easy and then really opened up.”
Beholder also captured last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita and earned the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old filly by virtue of that performance.
Close Hatches rallied to be a non-threatening second, 1 3/4 lengths better than Authenticity in third. Next came Royal Delta, the two-time defending Distaff champion who began to fade entering the far turn. Street Girl was fifth.
Mandella, a Hall of Fame trainer, paid Beholder the ultimate compliment afterwards.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have many good mares in my years of training, but this mare might have to be the best of all.”