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Breeders' Cup: Beholder, speed bias the talk of Friday's card
By Jay Privman
ARCADIA, Calif. – Beholder strongly enhanced her chances of being named champion 3-year-old filly with an overpowering victory in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Friday at Santa Anita, a day when the speed-biased nature of the main track was a major talking point.
Beholder crushed both Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar, Eastern invaders who ran poorly. Royal Delta attended the early pace and was in front of Beholder early, but retreated to finish fourth. Despite the loss, she has the best overall resume in her division, the older fillies and mares, and likely will win an Eclipse Award for the third straight year.
Princess of Sylmar lost her best chance at the start when she stumbled, but she never fired, finishing last. She surrendered any faint chance she had of being named Horse of the Year, and now may lose the 3-year-old filly title to Beholder.
Princess of Sylmar and Beholder split their two meetings this year, with Princess of Sylmar narrowly prevailing in the Kentucky Oaks. Both now have four Grade 1 wins for the year. But Beholder owns two wins against older fillies and mares, and made by far the best final impression.
Beholder won the Juvenile Fillies here a year ago, and is based here, so she had the home-track advantage. Princess of Sylmar had never raced in California.
It would be a shame if the day’s speed bias detracts from the quality of Beholder’s win, because, in fact, she did not directly benefit from it. There is no doubt the bias was a major factor in earlier races, particularly the Dirt Mile, but it seemed less so in the Distaff, where horses actually came from off the pace to do well.
Beholder stalked early, while wide, as Authenticity and Royal Delta set off after the lead. She passed those two, and drew off over Close Hatches, who rallied from fourth in the six-horse field to finish second. Authenticity was third.
The Distaff was the last of five Breeders’ Cup races run on Friday, with nine more to follow on Saturday.
Improbable longshots did well in early, non-Breeders’ Cup races, so by the time the Dirt Mile was run, the bias impacted the way it unfolded. Goldencents had drawn the outside post in a field of 12, so jockey Rafael Bejarano sent him hard from the gate to try to get the lead. Despite setting blazing fractions of 22.12 seconds for the opening-quarter mile, 44.75 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:08.64 for six furlongs, he widened his lead from that point to midstretch before coasting home 2 3/4 lengths best in 1:35.12.
“It’s speed favoring,” said trainer Doug O’Neill, who said he and Bejarano had similar thoughts on strategy.
“He kind of had that in his mind, and we loved hearing it,” O’Neill said.
Goldencents has won a pair of Grade 1 races this year, having captured the Santa Anita Derby in April. But that is unlikely to give him enough momentum to get the Eclipse Award for 3-year-old male, a title that could be decided in the BC Classic on Saturday between Palace Malice and Will Take Charge.
It was a warm, 86-degree afternoon, but the weather did nothing to stop the Europeans, who won three of the Breeders’ Cup races - the Marathon on dirt, and both grass races, the Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf.
London Bridge rallied to win the 1 3/4-mile Marathon in his first race on dirt on and on Lasix.
London Bridge was ridden by Mike Smith, who came right back to take the Juvenile Turf with Outstrip in race in which Europeans ran one-two.
Smith has now won a record 19 BC races. Jerry Bailey, now retired, is next with 15.
The Juvenile Fillies Turf went to Chriselliam, who is owned in part by Willie Carson, the former jockey perhaps best known in Breeders’ Cup lore for being aboard Dayjur when he jumped shadows in deep stretch of the Sprint at Belmont Park in 1990, surrendering the race to Safely Kept.
Lasix is not permitted in 2-year-old races at this year’s Breeders’ Cup. Both winners had never raced on the medication, as opposed to the runners who had last raced in the United States and were forced to come off it. The best a U.S. runner could do in the Juvenile Turf was finish third. Horses who last raced in North America were second, third, and fourth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
None of the 2-year-old races are expected to have an impact on the Eclipse Awards for their respective divisions. Those titles should be decided in Saturday’s dirt races, the Juvenile Fillies and Juvenile.
Two horses were eased. Ever Rider was pulled up in the Marathon, suffering from nothing more than exhaustion.
Centralinteligence needed to be removed from the track in the horse ambulance because of an injury to his the knee in his right front leg, which X-rays revealed was a fracture of his cannon bone, according to Dr. Wayne McIlwraith, an on-call veterinarian with the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
Bias or no bias. Goldencents would have won if that race was run on the moon. He doesn't need the lead to win. They just took advantage of his speed on a track favoring it and ran them off their feet.
while it is true that santa anita had speed bias you had to bet on the horses that like that track smith has been on fire so you have bet on the horses that he rode that day even the turf was lighting speed I won & lost some idid not bet on game on dude because he was just beating the same old horses even do you always have to respect bobby because he is one of the best trainers in the business but when you have 2 or 3 horses with speed it became more difficult for the dude to win I had D.O.W. & TAKE CHRGE INDY TO ME TAKE CHRAGE INDY IS THE BEST 3 YEAR OLD IN THE COUNTRY that been said the reason why euros keep kicking our butts is because we do not have good horses like we used to their are no more secretariats rhat is a thing of the past the only champion horse that we have is wise dan & think that now is the time to send him to compete over seas because he has beating everything here.
Weigh in please. Is there scientific underpinning to the term “speed bias”? I stumbled with a horse player who is a Professor of Physics at nearby Cal Tech (Santa Anita) who insisted that the term “speed bias” is a misnomer… (Re: when "evenly matched" horses run a route of ground on the same track).
Don't understand the complaining. I love the speed bias. I find the fastest horse and win a lot more than other tracks. Playing the horses isn't about picking your favorite runner, it's about picking the best horse. I won a ton of cash and a tournament thanks to Ria Antonia and the track she ran over.
Excellent racing! Thank you Santa Anita! See you next year!
The real question here going forward is how much did the speed bias aid the winners..my feeling is the turf was fair overall and most got a trouble free trip even if the sprints on turf are definitely for the specialists who have had success there before. But on dirt we started with a huge bias on Friday that improved slightly late on Saturday in the end its fair to say that the result of the classic was form full MUCHO MACHO MAN and the other 3 behind him were all logical and BEHOLDER was not a huge surprise either. If santa anita made the dirt track less biased than it was on friday and more like it ended up late saturday i think most would not have a problem with the breeders cup at this track. The weather and the mountains in the background were spectacular the handle was good but the biases need to be addressed.
I don't buy the speed bias stuff. Beholder was definitely not benefitting from a bias. She was sitting third off the rail, made her move on the turn and was much the best. If there was a true speed bias, you would expect at least slightly elevated final times and I didn't see any of that today.
So it is speed, speed , speed again. Are you really surprised? Change your plans and get onboard the bus.It would be nice if they run on an honest track like Belmont, but weather is too fickle. I was humbled first day, so thank God for day two. Can't wait for funky 6 1/2f downhill and to see if Wise Dan likes the bias. Have fun and hit a big one.
Every single person on here is complaining cause they lost $$$$$ and could not even pick there nose. So when all the jockeys gun there horses today , they will come from off the pace. Bombs away boys and girls!
There was no complaining when Fort Larned beat Game on Dude last year, or wihen Shanghai Bobby or Royal delta won. EAST COAST fans. Funny now all the crying. So the track is the problem when Todd and Mott don't have the horses to win. TIZNOW California bred, California stalled Who kicked Butt at CHURCHILL and The Holy Mother of God BELMONT PARK. History breeders say go with horse for course when the breeders is in Cali. You never thought that last year was a fluke, no you guys just pounded your chest and said we have the superior horses. Don't worry dude and paynter probably are not going to win Classic today. So all will probably be well for you guys. You might have something to go pound your chest about before the days out. Its all about that one race right
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