05/03/2013 7:07PM

Kentucky Oaks: Beholder overcomes pre-race jitters to finish second

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John Bambury
Garrett Gomez, after being unseated by Beholder in the post parade of the Kentucky Oaks, has to reboard the jittery filly. She recovered to finish a close second at 9-1.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Despite her status as the reigning champion 2-year-old filly, Beholder was the forgotten filly of this year’s Kentucky Oaks.

 Though she wound up a half-length short to longshot Princess of Sylmar in Friday’s 139th renewal of the Oaks, Beholder demonstrated some of the traits that made her a champion.

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 Stirred up in the post parade to the point where she unseated jockey Garrett Gomez, Beholder ran a dynamite race in defeat, finishing second at odds of 9-1 in what had been hyped as one of the deepest Oaks field in recent memory. Unlimited Budget, previously  undefeated in four starts, finished third and Dreaming of Julia, the 3-2 favorite coming off a near 22-length victory in the Gulfstream Oaks, was fourth after a troubled trip.

 Meanwhile, Beholder sat off the pacesetting Midnight Lucky, before taking the lead in upper stretch. She continued on through the lane but was collared by Princess of Sylmar, a 38-1 longshot who rallied down the center of the Churchill Downs stretch under Mike Smith.

“This is probably one of the best races she ever ran - solid - where she sat off a horse and when I told her to go she went,” Gomez said. “Mikey was able to run her down. I was hoping Mikey would come closer so [Beholder] could feel him more and get a little more competitive. He stayed out away from me. He knows my filly likes to fight. She ran a really tremendous race.”

 Especially considering what happened in the post parade. A nervous filly by nature - she trained in earmuffs all week - Beholder got excited in the post parade, fell on her behind and unseated Gomez, who bounced up quickly. Beholder, was in the hands of an outrider and never got loose.

 Once composed, Gomez remounted and the filly calmed down once she entered the starting gate.

 “She almost fell down with me in the post parade trying to get away from the pony,” Gomez said. “She turned herself sideways and stepped on herself and almost fell. Her butt was on the ground when I come off of her. She got up and I had to jog her up to the gate.

 “Once she was in the gate she was beautiful,” Gomez added. “She ran beautiful. I just wish she wouldn’t have expended so much energy coming up to the gate.”

 Beholder entered the Oaks with 5 wins from 8 starts, including three Grade 1 victories. She won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last fall and won the Las Virgenes and Santa Anita Oaks. This was her first trip outside of Southern California.

 Richard Mandella, Beholder’s trainer, said he had some concern that the large crowd could be a hindrance to his filly.

“The crowd is hard to overcome with some of them and that was our biggest obstacle, but she ran very good in spite of it,” Mandella said. “Still, I’m going to take her home.”