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ECLIPSE CHAMP BEHOLDER, WITH STEVENS UP, WINS GRADE I ZENYATTA STAKES IN HER FIRST TRY AGAINST OLDER, BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF NEXT ON HER AGENDA NOV. 1 AT SANTA ANITA
OWNED BY HUGHES’ SPENDTHRIFT FARM, BEHOLDER TAKES ‘WIN & YOU’RE IN’ PREP BY 1 ¼ LENGTHS
ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 28, 2013)—A winner of last year’s Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and subsequent Eclipse Champion Juvenile Filly, Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder faced older distaffers for the first time in Saturday’s Grade I, $250,000 Zenyatta Stakes and as is her custom, took the fight to the opposition early and often, winning gate to wire under Gary Stevens by 1 ¼ lengths while covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.11 as the 8-5 favorite amongst a field of seven.
Previously ridden exclusively by Garrett Gomez, Beholder was handled by Stevens for the first time on Sept. 1 at Del Mar, a facile win in the Torrey Pines Stakes.
“She’s really matured from what I’ve seen just being a fan of hers and then being able to ride her right now,” said Stevens. “I just try and stay out of her way. She’s particular about what she wants and as long as she gets it, she’s easy to deal with.
“I haven’t gotten close to the bottom of her yet. Maybe there’s not as much there as I think, but it feels like there is still another gear.”
Trained by Richard Mandella, Beholder certainly had a high gear on Saturday, as she never looked back while carving out splits of 23.73, 47.36, 1:11.28 and 1:35.52—setting her sights on the $2 million Distaff on Nov. 1, and perhaps, another Eclipse Award.
“The filly’s very special,” said Mandella. “I’m very proud of her. She’ll go in the Distaff after this. She’s just a filly that really likes the fight. She likes going to battle and it (her competitiveness) comes out when the race is run.”
Beholder, who provided Stevens with his second of what would eventually be four wins on the day, paid $5.20, $3.60 and $2.10.
Owned by B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, she banked $150,000 and ran her money-won total to $1,975,000 She now has seven wins and three seconds from 11 lifetime starts.
“Our whole goal this year was to get to the Breeders’ Cup again,” said Hughes, who was celebrating his 80th birthday. “Richard Mandella did a great job picking the races and the pace and everything else. We were happy to be here and it was nice to win.”
Off as the third choice at 9-2, Authenticity shipped west from New York for trainer Todd Pletcher and closed well from last early to pay $4.80 and $3.00 with Martin Garcia aboard.
Joyful Victory, who stalked the pace but could not go with the winner from the top of the lane home, finished third, 2 ¼ lengths behind Authenticity, with Rosie Napravnik aboard.
“We were thankful to draw outside today (post six), but I still ended up running third,” said Napravnik. “We were working much harder than everybody else around both turns and that probably cost us quite a bit. We were at a big disadvantage on both turns. The pace did slow a bit and she likes to run freely but…she still ran a good race today.”
Trained by Larry Jones and off as the 5-2 second choice, Joyful Victory paid $2.60 to show.
“No excuses,” said Jones, who along with his 5-year-old mare shipped in from Churchill Downs. “We had a good clean trip. We had to run a little. It’s been a long time since we raced…If all goes well, and she gets back to Churchill well, we’ll be back (for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff).”