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BEHOLDER LOOMS STANDOUT IN SATURDAY’S GRADE I SANTA ANITA OAKS, ECLIPSE CHAMPION COMES OFF BIG SCORE FOR TRAINER MANDELLA
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 3, 2013)—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 1/16 miles.
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 her wins.
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 lifetime starts.
The outside post position should pose no problems as Gomez can use his filly’s considerable speed according to the way the race sets up.
In addition to the Santa Anita Derby and Oaks, Santa Anita will offer two other graded stakes on Saturday, the Grade II Potrero Grande and the Grade III Providencia.
Santa Anita will also guarantee $750,000 in Saturday’s Late Pick Four, which will cover races eight through 11. First post time on Santa Anita Derby Day is 12 noon.