09/27/2014 5:48PM

Beholder strong enough in Zenyatta Stakes

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Beholder rallied Saturday to win the Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Beholder did not need a brilliant performance Saturday in the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita to move toward the Breeder’s Cup.

All she needed was to run well. Mission accomplished.

Beholder ($2.80) scored a workmanlike comeback victory, winning the $300,000 race by three-quarters of a length. The pacesetting Tiz Midnight finished second, 3 1/4 lengths in front of Iotapa, whose chances were compromised by a poor start.

Beholder, trained by Richard Mandella, was racing for the first time since she was injured June 7 in a race at Belmont Park. Over a Santa Anita surface that produced slow times, Beholder pressed the pace three wide, took the lead turning for home, and won the 1 1/16-mile race in 1:42.19.

Mike Smith was riding Beholder for the first time in a race. “We were worried about her getting a little tired, and she did,” Smith said. “The track definitely is slower. You’re going to get tired on it.”

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The win by Beholder, her 10th from 15 starts, should set her up for the BC Distaff on Oct. 31, a race she won last year. Beholder also won the BC Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita in 2012.

While Beholder always figured for a three-wide trip pressing the pace, the complexion changed entirely for Iotapa. Instead of her expected role as pacesetter, she broke slowly and was unable to recover.

“She’s always a little tight in [the gate], and this time, she was more tight than usual,” jockey Joe Talamo said. “She just broke slow.”

Iotapa passed Yahilwa late to salvage third place as the 2-1 second favorite.

Tiz Midnight benefitted from the slow start by Iotapa and was able to set the pace through fractions of 46.55 seconds and 1:10.34. After being passed by Beholder into the stretch, she tried to battle back and was cutting into the winner’s margin at the wire.

“She’s learning how to run,” Tiz Midnight’s trainer, Bob Baffert, said. “I got excited when she made that run.”

The order of finish was completed by Yahilwa and Wittgenstein. Tiz the Key was scratched early in the day.

mike More than 1 year ago
Dumb f****** railing on Beholder,after coming off an injury and winning. Unreal!
Dan Cronin More than 1 year ago
Beholder will be ready but not sure she is good enough to beat Close Hatches IF CH makes the lead Beholder will never get by her. This race will be a good one
Big Rob stud More than 1 year ago
She Is A Shell of her former self. She has zero shot in the BC
mike More than 1 year ago
You know this is ONE FRIGGIN ISSUE I HAVE. Knuckleheads slamming horses,especially after a win yesterday.
mike More than 1 year ago
What happened bro,did you lose your moms $ yesterday betting against Beholder?
Elise Teer More than 1 year ago
It's okay Mike, she just keeps proving them wrong.lol Remember last year she was given no shot to win the Distaff and not only did she win she CRUSHED them all.
mike More than 1 year ago
Agreed! Her trainer,do you remember he trained The Tin Man? I've visited him several times when I've been in CA.
Elise Teer More than 1 year ago
I don't think people realize how bad the injury was she got in the Phipps. I wish I could show the picture of it and maybe that would explain to people why she hasn't run since.And add to the fact that she had a mini set back in Aug that had her miss a week of training! She needed this race so when I see people jumping all over her it just isn't fair imo. Nothing gets you ready to run like an actual race, This was the set up to the big dance and she will be ready. As far as rating, she hasn't done it much because she has just been that much faster than the others. She did a beautiful job in the Distaff last year and those close to her were not shocked at how she did it. But please bet against her in the Distaff this year....I will take all of the doubters money at the window.lol
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Elise - Put the photo on a photo site like (photo bucket) and spell out the link here. I'd love to see the link of the picture of her injury. Thanks!
Elise Teer More than 1 year ago
I know how to do it. I will just have to ask if I can show it. It would only be right for me to ask first. sorry
mike More than 1 year ago
Elise, agree with you. Some there's no hope for,just too friggin stupid.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I have seen Beholder race in person 5 times(all 5 being gr.1 victories), and I can only describe her physical appearance today as chunky, heavy. She seemed to be carrying considerably more weight and had less muscle definition. Although not a big girl, Beholder is well put together and her physical appearance usually just jumps out at you. Not today. Even her coat didn't quite have its normal shine to it. Unlike in last year's Zenyatta, Beholder didn't have a comeback prep at Del Mar this year. Mandella was playing catch up, and she likely was 75-80% today. Given that they are behind schedule this year, this truly was just a prep. But she's good enough to win a grade 1 just prepping. No question she will need to be better to win the Distaff; today's effort is not going to cut it. But Mandella, one of the truly great trainers out West for the last 30+ years, now has 5 weeks to get her fully cranked. Thus, I would expect a much better effort in the Distaff. What I particularly liked today is that she displayed her typical turn of foot rounding into the stretch, a decisive move to take command. However, she simply wasn't able to consolidate this move, and scoot on for an easy win. She just got tired. That's where the lack of fitness showed. I have seen Beholder race in person 5 times(all 5 being gr.1 victories), and I can only describe her physical appearance today as chunky, heavy. She seemed to be carrying considerably more weight and had less muscle definition. Although not a big girl, Beholder is well put together and her physical appearance usually just jumps out at you. Not today. Even her coat didn't quite have its normal shine to it. Unlike in last year's Zenyatta, Beholder didn't have a comeback prep at Del Mar this year. Mandella was playing catch up, and she likely was 75-80% today. Given that they are behind schedule this year, this truly was just a prep. But she's good enough to win a grade 1 just prepping. No question she will need to be better to win the Distaff; today's effort is not going to cut it. But Mandella, one of the truly great trainers out West for the last 30+ years, now has 5 weeks to get her fully cranked. Thus, I would expect a much better effort in the Distaff. What I particularly liked today is that she displayed her typical turn of foot rounding into the stretch, a decisive move to take command. However, she simply wasn't able to consolidate this move, and scoot on for an easy win. She just got tired. That's where the lack of fitness showed. I have seen Beholder race in person 5 times(all 5 being gr.1 victories), and I can only describe her physical appearance today as chunky, heavy. She seemed to be carrying considerably more weight and had less muscle definition. Although not a big girl, Beholder is well put together and her physical appearance usually just jumps out at you. Not today. Even her coat didn't quite have its normal shine to it. Unlike in last year's Zenyatta, Beholder didn't have a comeback prep at Del Mar this year. Mandella was playing catch up, and she likely was 75-80% today. Given that they are behind schedule this year, this truly was just a prep. But she's good enough to win a grade 1 just prepping. No question she will need to be better to win the Distaff; today's effort is not going to cut it. But Mandella, one of the truly great trainers out West for the last 30+ years, now has 5 weeks to get her fully cranked. Thus, I would expect a much better effort in the Distaff. What I particularly liked today is that she displayed her typical turn of foot rounding into the stretch, a decisive move to take command. However, she simply wasn't able to consolidate this move, and scoot on for an easy win. She just got tired. That's where the lack of fitness showed.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Great article the best Drf has put out all year. Close Hatches is in top form and raced well on this surface last year. She will be very hard to beat in Distaff
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I will say this about Close Hatches. If she wins the Spinster but Beholder beats her in the BC Distaff, I hope voters reward CH with an Eclipse for her work the entire year. If CH wins the Spinster, then the only way Beholder should be able to win an Eclipse is if she wins the Distaff by 10, and she's not going to do that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beholder my have needed the race but I didn't like that last eighth of a mile.....I think she needs the lead to win the BC. She doesn't seem to be as good when she rates. I'll stay away from her next race
Elise Teer More than 1 year ago
Geez cut her some slack she was coming off a layoff. And she wasn't cranked up for this race. It was a stepping stone to the big dance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I said that she may have needed the race, I just don't think that she should've let a 2x allowance horse make up ground like that on her after passing her in the stretch. It wasn't a good race to me
Jordan More than 1 year ago
Sure, the way Beholder finished raises some concerns. It wasn't near her best performance. But when I take everything into account, the injury, the breaks in training, the lack of a prep, and her heavy physical appearance, my conclusion is that she was short for the race and simply got tired that last part. The question is, can Mandella get her fully cranked in just 5 weeks, because I agree, she will need to be much better to win the Distaff.
nick More than 1 year ago
Gee, guess you must have missed last year's Breeder's Cup races, or you might have seen Beholder run a monster race from off the pace. She never saw the rail while racing most of the way in 3rd or 4th, and didn't strike the lead until the top of the homestretch. That being said, she will have to beat a VERY good Close Hatches again this year. I am very much looking forward to this race.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sat 2nd behind a longshot that didn't belong in the race last year.
Jordan More than 1 year ago
You were wrong in your original statements about Beholder not being as good when she rates and thus your conclusion about her needing the lead in the Distaff is resting on logic that year's Distaff seems to disprove.. The pacesetter in last year's Distaff was Authenticity, a solid stakes mare who ran 3rd that day. The horse that sat 2nd was Royal Delta. And going into the first turn, Beholder was also behind Close Hatches. Beholder moved past Close Hatches straightening into the backstretch, but was still 3rd behind RD and Authenticity. Now, if one were to write that Beholder is best near the pace rather than running from midpack or behind(Ogden Phipps), then yes, that appears true. Her Distaff last year was her career best, and she did rate that day.
Elise Teer More than 1 year ago
And you can't even count the Phipps because she got hurt in that race. But yes she can rate! She has just been so much faster than the ones she has run against that she didn't need to rate!
mike More than 1 year ago
Agreed!