Nostalgia For The Great Beholder At 2022 Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Nostalgia For The Great Beholder At 2022 Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

Mike Smith and Gary Stevens rode in an epic battle-to-the wire between Songbird and Beholder in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff

The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is a great place to summon goosebumps from devoted race fans, and Friday's Hall of Fame induction ceremony was no exception. It's easy to forget, as the racing season goes on, just how much a great horse thrilled you, but Beholder reminded even the most experienced owners and trainers of that feeling on Aug. 5.

Before the acceptance speech for each inductee, the Hall of Fame plays a video highlighting of the horse or human's career. A replay of Beholder's dramatic dogfight with the previously-undefeated Songbird in the stretch of the 2016 Breeders' Cup Distaff drew thunderous applause from the attendees at the Fasig-Tipton pavilion, even in an audience that had certainly seen it many times before.

Beholder won four Eclipse Awards in her remarkable career for trainer Richard Mandella and Spendthrift Farm, collecting 18 wins from 26 starts, 11 of which were Grade 1s. She has three Breeders' Cup victories — two in the Distaff, one in the Juvenile Fillies — and beat the boys in the 2015 Pacific Classic.

Spendthrift Farm owner Eric Gustavson accepted the Hall of Fame honor on behalf of Beholder and took the time to thank each person who worked with her in her journey, from her breeder Clarkland Farm to the people who started her under saddle, consigned and sold her, cared for her on lay-up and conditioned her on the track. There was one person, Gustavson said, who was really key in her journey but missing from the auditorium — Spendthrift founder B. Wayne Hughes, who died in August 2021.

“He should be standing here right now instead of me,” Gustavson said. “Wayne never really got too attached to racehorses. They meant a lot to him, but he just wasn't one to let his emotions come along for the ride. Until Beholder, that is. She changed him in that regard. Following her impressive win in the Pacific Classic against the boys he said, 'I've had a few good horses in the past. She's the first horse who makes me feel lucky to be the owner. I've never had that feeling before. I think it's called pride.'”

Robert Masterson, owner of fellow inductee Tepin, was also grateful to the people who made his journey with the big filly a special one. Masterson particularly recalled the fan following she inspired, from the family wearing homemade t-shirts to the crowds chanting her name at Woodbine and Santa Anita, to the couple who named their child after her.

“She just had a way of capturing people,” Masterson said.

Additional honorees on Friday included historical entrants Hillsdale, Royal Heroine and Oscar White, and Pillars of the Turf James Cox Brady, Marshall Whiting Cassidy, and James Ben Ali Haggin.

Cassidy was known for creating or improving a number of innovations that impact the way we view racing today, including the modern starting gate, photo finish technology, medication testing, electronic timing, and pre-race veterinary examinations. Cassidy's great-granddaughter, Cindy Hlywa, recalled that the great honor of the Hall of Fame induction added to the legend of a fascinating, adventurous life. Hlywa recalled stories from her father (also named Marshall Cassidy) about the elder Cassidy, including tales of his capture and escape from Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa in Juárez, his stint as a frequent taxi driver to Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, and the time he decided he wanted to fly his plane to work and landed in the infield of Belmont Park. (Local police showed up to the track to arrest him for violating air traffic control laws, but since Hlywa says “the story ends there, we gather he talked his way out of that one.”)

You can watch the complete induction ceremony, including the traditional gathering of Hall of Fame trainers and jockeys at the beginning of the event, below.

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