10/26/2015 11:21AM

Beholder works swiftly for Breeders’ Cup Classic

Barbara D. Livingston
Beholder works five furlongs at Keeneland on Monday.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a minor hiccup last week, all has gone according to plan for Beholder, who showed her readiness to take on males on Saturday in the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a five-furlong drill at Keeneland on Monday that Daily Racing Form clocked in 59.27 seconds.

Trainer Richard Mandella said Beholder’s blood work had quickly returned to normal after being one degree above normal the day after she flew here last week from California. But Mandella is still hovering over Beholder like a drone. He quickly hustled back to the barn after the work and summoned Mark Cheney, a leading veterinarian, to put an endoscope down Beholder’s throat for a postwork exam to make sure absolutely nothing untoward was there – no mucus, no blood, nothing.

She scoped clean, Mandella said, adding that he’d have more blood drawn from Beholder to “make sure nothing surfaces after the stress of the work.”

The work itself hardly looked stressful. With regular exercise rider Janeen Painter aboard, Beholder appeared to be going well within herself throughout and finished with good energy.

“She looked real nice, went along easy,” said Mandella, who watched the work from the Keeneland grandstand alongside owner B. Wayne Hughes, who owns Spendthrift Farm, and Spendthrift general manager Ned Toffey. “We wanted to get some wind in her. We tested the water, and the water looks good.”

Back at the barn, Mandella and Hughes met to, as Mandella put it, “make sure he wanted to do what I wanted to do.”

Beholder was pre-entered last week in the Classic and the Distaff, with the Classic listed as her first preference, and Mandella said all along that that was his intended goal. He and Hughes agreed that the Classic was still the plan, so at the final entry deadline Monday, she was officially placed in the Classic and taken out of consideration for the Distaff.

“It’s going to be a pretty difficult task with the colts, but we’re going to take a shot,” Hughes said.

Beholder, 5, has won 15 times in 20 starts, with two of those victories coming in Breeders’ Cup races. At 2, she won the Juvenile Fillies, and at 3, she won the Distaff. She was preparing for the Distaff again last year when a minor illness kept her from competing.

If she wins the Classic, she will be the first horse to win three different Breeders’ Cup races.

“Sometimes you’ve got to reach up,” Mandella said of the challenge of running in the Classic.

Mandella said Beholder would walk at the barn Tuesday, then school in the paddock Wednesday and/or Thursday. He does extensive paddock schooling with Beholder at Santa Anita owing to her tendency to be nervous, so this is standard preparation for her.

A field of 10 was to be entered Monday in the Classic – American Pharoah, Beholder, Effinex, Frosted, Gleneagles, Hard Aces, Honor Code, Keen Ice, Smooth Roller, and Tonalist.

Honor Code arrived here Monday after a flight from New York.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch