Beholder Takes Adoration As She Pleases In 2016 Debut - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Beholder Takes Adoration As She Pleases In 2016 Debut

Beholder wins the Adoration under a hand-ride

Making her 2016 debut, Spendthrift Farm's star mare Beholder took down Santa Anita's Grade 3 Adoration Stakes under a hand ride from Gary Stevens, barely breaking a sweat the Sunday after Derby. The 6-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes covered 8 1/2 furlongs in 1:42.73 for trainer Richard Mandella, winning by 2 1/2 lengths on the wire.

“When I got on her, she let out a big sigh, which tells you a horse is relaxed,” said Stevens. “I said, 'That's my mama.' That was the only thing said between me and Roberto (pony rider) on the way to the gate.

“She left there sweet like she always does. She went over super, super quiet today. I almost thought I had her too quiet. Richard (Mandella) does all the work, along with (exercise rider) Janeen (Painter) and the whole crew, and I get to have all the fun and that's all that was, was fun.

“I had to let her do a little something the last sixteenth because she wanted to. She had fun, I had fun.

“Being off as long as she has is a tribute to Richard and Mr. Hughes showing that kind of patience. The sky's the limit for her. She didn't take so much as a deep breath when I pulled her up. She's a very happy mare.”

With just five rivals lining up to face her, Beholder broke sharply for Stevens from the outer-most post. She was forced four-wide on the first turn as three other fillies and mares vied for the lead, though it didn't seem to bother the three-time Eclipse Award-winner. California-bred Sheer Pleasure ended up with the front spot alongside Moyo Honey, as Beholder and All Star Bub took back to run in unison in third. Through a first quarter in :24.01, Beholder tracked the pace, but she served notice approaching the half-mile mark, moving up to second within a length of the leading Sheer Pleasure, who clocked the fraction in :48.25.

Entering the final turn, Stevens never asked the mare, but she moved up to challenge Sheer Pleasure all on her own after three-quarters in 1:12.44. Drawing even near the head of the lane, Beholder's giant strides gobbled up ground as Stevens never moved, and the champion mare drew away well within herself to cross the wire 2 1/2 lengths in front. Sheer Pleasure held second over All Star Bub.

“She was supposed to win this race,” said Mandella, “and that usually makes trainers more nervous than anything, because you realize how bad you look if you get them beat, so you've got to live with that.

“The Vanity looks like the next step (Vanity Mile, Grade I, $400,000 on June 4). I couldn't be happier with the way she's come back at six years old. I'm proud of Mr. (owner B. Wayne) Hughes for letting me have her back (to train).”

Last season, Beholder was set to challenge the Triple Crown winning American Pharoah in the Breeders' Cup Classic to cap off an undefeated year, when a fever removed her from contention. Given the winter off, Beholder had been back in training since early March, and Sunday's Adoration marked her 2016 debut.

“I don't know how much this kind of race does for her but Richard thought it was the way to go, and he's in charge,” said owner B. Wayne Hughes. “Not only am I still thinking about going up against the boys but I want Nyquist to be the Triple Crown winner. Because we got sick last year, it's very important to us to be able to take a shot at a Triple Crown winner. I think it would be amazing.

“It's a very nice feeling knowing she can train and run up to the Breeders' Cup here at home. She doesn't do well traveling. Neither do I though at 82, so we have that in common.

“It was my decision to run her at age six but Richard approved it. If she has a good year this year, I'll do it again next year at age seven. Why not?! She's having a good time, she's really happy. I had a long talk with Gary on the plane flying back this morning and he told me she's bigger and better than she ever was before so I asked him how he knows. He said, 'by the girth, it's bigger!' So why stop? I see no reason to stop.”

Bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm, Beholder was a bargain $180,000 purchase at the Keeneland September yearling sale. Since that time, she has gone on to compile a record of 16 wins from 21 starts, with three seconds. Nine of those wins have come in Grade 1 events, and her career earnings stand at nearly $4.5 million.

There was a minus place pool of $5,103.48, and a minus show pool of $137,142.55. Of the total show pool of $747,626, $692,457 was bet on Beholder.

Watch the stretch run here:

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