Trainer Richard Mandella wore a cautiously optimistic grin Wednesday morning at Keeneland as he reported that champion mare and Breeders' Cup Classic candidate Beholder was bright, alert and not running a fever one day after she was found to have an elevated temperature.
Beholder shipped into Keeneland on Monday and, on Tuesday morning, had an elevated temperature of 101.3 where her normal temperature is 100.3.
A lung scan performed Tuesday came back clean, and blood work indicated only slight elevations in her white blood cell count, probably due to the stress of shipping. The two-time Eclipse Award winner was treated with antibiotics, and Mandella said Wednesday the fever had not returned and that her Breeders' Cup hopes were alive.
"She's had no temperature. She's feeling very good," Mandella said. "We've taken more blood, we'll see how that looks. If that comes back normal today and the scan was good and she doesn't get any temperature, maybe by afternoon I might put my girl on her and ride her in the barn.
"I took her for a walk (in the barn) last night and she took me for a walk."
Mandella said later on an NTRA teleconference that her white blood cell count "had corrected itself" and that he was planning to gallop her Thursday morning.
Beholder, winner of the 2012 Juvenile Fillies and 2013 Distaff, missed last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff when she spiked a fever and was found to have mild inflammation in her lungs which necessitated her being turned out for two months.
Mandella says that, luckily, infection does not seem to be present and that the 5-year-old mare likely worked herself up on the flight from California to Kentucky.
"She was so pumped and she's that way," Mandella said. "She just got herself upset from shipping. I think she was just too excited on the plane."
Mandella did end up having Beholder walk under tack in the shedrow Wednesday afternoon. The Hall of Fame conditioner also took his champion charge out to graze throughout the day where, more than once, the mare stopped to stare at the training track across the road as if indicating her eagerness to get back to real work.
"I thought we were out of the game. When I first looked at her, head down, temperature rising, I thought 'Oh, we're dead,'" Mandella said. "Today, we're back in the game. But there will be a lot tests and we'll play it by ear."
Owned by Spendthrift Farm, Beholder has won 15 of 20 career starts including nine Grade I wins with earnings of $4,436,600.
Beholder has won all five of her starts in 2015 including an 81/4-length triumph over males in the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 22. In her most recent outing, the bay mare captured the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes for the third consecutive year, winning by 31/4 lengths in what amounted to a paid workout.