10/10/2012 5:43PM

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint: Beholder looking like fastest in her class

From a running style and pedigree standpoint, Beholder seems tailor-made for the Juvenile Sprint.

There is no doubting the speed of the Richard Mandella-trained Beholder, a juvenile filly who scorched the main track at Santa Anita last week to the tune of a 108 Beyer Speed Figure. Not only was that number the fastest – by far – of any 2-year-old race in 2012, but Beholder’s final time of 1:09 is the quickest six-furlong clocking at the Santa Anita meeting.

While there was some discussion concerning stretching Beholder out in distance for the Juvenile Fillies, It seems more likely that Mandella will point for the Juvenile Sprint.

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“She cruised along so easy, it’s just amazing,” Mandella said to track publicity after Beholder’s entry-level allowance win.

From a running style and pedigree standpoint, Beholder seems tailor-made for the Juvenile Sprint. Quick from the gate, Beholder takes the running to her opponents as she did when she was a pace-pressing winner of her second start, a maiden special weight going 5 1/2 furlongs over the Del Mar Polytrack. In her lone effort past six furlongs, in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, Beholder bobbled at the start, but soon emerged with a clear advantage. She had a big lead in late stretch, but was late to make her final lead change and was nipped on the wire by the undefeated Executiveprivilege, arguably the top juvenile filly in the country.

Although a half-brother to Into Mischief, the hero of the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at 1 1/16 miles over the Hollywood Cushion Track in 2007, Beholder is by Henny Hughes, a stone-cold sprinter who won both the Grade 1 King’s Bishop and Grade 1 Vosburgh at 3. The majority of Henny Hughes’s progeny excel at shorter distances and Beholder might be no exception.

Merit Man a dirt natural

Following an upset victory over favored Scherer Magic in the inaugural Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 6, the undefeated Merit Man will point for the Juvenile Sprint.

Trained by Bob Hess Jr., Merit Man won first out at Del Mar last month before drawing away to take the Tim Conway, his first start on dirt, with a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He runs much better on dirt,” Hess told track publicity after the Tim Conway. “We knew that going to Del Mar” with its Polytrack surface. “He got down there, kind of bobbled, and wasn’t really smooth.”

A $2,200 weanling who resold for $75,000 in April, Merit Man is bred both sides for sprint success and looms an interesting price play in a Juvenile Sprint where fillies (Beholder, Kauai Katie) may dominate the wagering.