08/30/2013 1:38PM

Del Mar: Beholder starts her second season in Torrey Pines

Tom Keyser
Beholder, making her first start since finishing second in the Kentucky Oaks in May, worked a mile in 1:38.80 for Sunday's Torrey Pines.

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DEL MAR, Calif. – Just as Labor Day weekend arrives, a summer vacation ends for Beholder, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2012.

Beholder has not started since finishing second to Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 3. Following that race, she was turned out briefly at a Southern California farm before returning to the racetrack with trainer Richard Mandella.

Sunday, Beholder will be a heavy favorite to win the fourth stakes of her career in the $100,000 Torrey Pines Stakes over a mile for 3-year-old fillies at Del Mar. The Torrey Pines is a race that Mandella expects to win, especially after watching Beholder’s recent workouts, notably a mile in 1:38.80 on Aug. 21.

“I’d expect her to run well,” he said. “Her works are solid. She had a nice mile work, and it seems like she’s back where she left off.”

[DEL MAR DERBY: Get PPs, watch Sunday's card live]

Owned by B. Wayne Hughes, Beholder has won three Grade 1 races, all at Santa Anita – the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last November, the Las Virgenes Stakes in March, and the Santa Anita Oaks in April. In the Kentucky Oaks, over 1 1/8 miles, she led by two lengths with a furlong remaining before finishing a half-length behind Princess of Sylmar, a 38-1 longshot.

“I was proud of her,” Mandella said. “She ran really good and was game in defeat. You wished you would have won.”

Since that race, Princess of Sylmar has risen to the top of the 3-year-old filly division with two Grade 1 wins at Saratoga – the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama Stakes.

Mandella is hoping Beholder can rise to the top of the 3-year-old division this fall. After the Kentucky Oaks, Mandella said Beholder needed a mental rest more than a physical one.

“It gave her a chance to settle back down,” Mandella said. “The pressure was getting to her. When we got to Churchill Downs, it’s tough on the excitable ones, and she is excitable.”

Mandella said he is not sure whether Beholder will race around two turns or in sprints this fall, wanting to see how she performs in the Torrey Pines first.

“We’ll get through Sunday and go forward,” he said. “I can go shorter or longer.”

Beholder is one of two graded stakes winners in the Torrey Pines. The other is Charlie Em, who won the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park in May, but has been unplaced in three subsequent starts.

Becky Lou, Miss Empire, Sweet Tess, and Wittgenstein will be longshots.

Adoration: Lady Aspen in top form

Lady Aspen, second in the Luther Burbank Handicap at Santa Rosa on July 28, tries to win her first stakes in her 24th start in Sunday’s $90,000 Adoration Stakes for fillies and mares over a mile.

The Adoration Stakes drew a field of eight who have combined to win three races this year. Lady Aspen won two optional claimers at Golden Gate Fields, one in January and one in February. The other horse in the race to have won this year is Dancingtothestars, who won an optional claimer here Aug. 8.

Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Lady Aspen, 5, was supplemented to the Adoration Stakes for $900 on Thursday.

“We wanted to run her and we couldn’t get any other races,” Hollendorfer said. “She always tries.”

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The Adoration Stakes is run over a mile on the synthetic main track for fillies and mares. Hollendorfer also starts defending champion Cathy’s Crunches, who is winless in five starts this year, all in Northern California, and Via Villaggio, who was sixth in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Stakes here Aug. 3.

Charm the Maker, a fast-closing fifth in a sprint Aug. 7, is a threat from off the pace.