10/21/2015 8:04AM

Mandella optimistic Beholder still on target for Breeders’ Cup Classic

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Benoit & Associates
Beholder wins the Pacific Classic on Aug. 22 at Del Mar.

Trainer Richard Mandella expressed continued optimism that champion Beholder's elevated temperature a day after arriving in Kentucky was due to shipping stress and that there is not a more serious problem precluding her competition in next week’s Breeders' Cup Classic.

The mare was to walk the shed row on Wednesday morning while having additional blood work and lung scans done. Assuming those come back clean, Mandella would then devise a training schedule for the mare’s final Classic preparations.

“We're gonna scan her lungs, and we anticipate that they'll be perfect again,” Mandella said.

Beholder missed a scheduled easy gallop Tuesday morning at Keeneland when she was found to have a slightly elevate temperature. The 5-year-old mare's initial lung ultrasound and blood work both came back clean, showing only a slightly elevated white blood cell count indicating a stress response. The mare was treated with a precautionary course of penicillin, as well as Banamine to treat the temperature. Mandella said the mare's attitude had greatly improved by the afternoon, and that the elevated temperature has not returned.

"She sounded good and that [yesterday morning], but she was depressed," Mandella said. "She had her head hanging, which is not typical of her. She's usually pretty aggressive. … By afternoon, we could hardly walk her, and the temperature had not returned. It's good right now. She's eating good, she's feeling good, but with horses you have to be very respectful and worried about the chance of pneumonia [as a complication].”

Beholder arrived in Lexington on Monday afternoon, following a cross-country Tex Sutton flight from her California base. This marked just the third trip outside of California for Beholder, who finished second in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs and fourth in the 2014 Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park, emerging from the latter with a cut on her leg that kept her out of action for several months. Beholder is known to be high-strung, and Mandella believes the excitement of travel led to a stress response.

“She just got too worked up and too upset shipping,” Mandella said. “She just got too pumped and upset.”

The situation has created a sense of deja vu, as Beholder missed last year's Breeders' Cup after spiking a fever several weeks before the race. That was a more serious illness, as lung inflammation necessitated two months of turnout before the mare was fully recovered.

“I thought we were out of the game when I first looked at her [yesterday], Mandella said. “Today, I think we’re back in the game.”