Exercise rider Janeen Painter played the role of statue in the saddle. The champion mare beneath her performed her usual act of making the taxing look effortless.
With owner B. Wayne Hughes and the rest of her admirers looking on from the grandstand, two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder put in her last piece of work before the Breeders' Cup Classic when she breezed five furlongs in :59.40 over the Keeneland main track.
The move comes less than a week after the 5-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes spiked a slight temperature after shipping to Kentucky from her base in California. The strength of her morning gallops have put that episode behind her and Beholder further solidified she is spry as ever with Painter sitting motionless as she clocked splits of 12 2/5, :24, :36 with a gallop out in 1:12 4/5.
"She was just having a nice time, the time was good, she was good," trainer Richard Mandella said of the move. "I would have preferred to work yesterday but us trainers don't know what we're doing anything. It was just maintenance, just get some wind in her because it's been a while between works. Just testing the water and the water looked good."
Mandella says that Spendthrift Farm owner Hughes "has worn a different look on his face this year than he ever has before." So deep is Beholder's hold on her connections that Hughes has decided to go against his own business model of taking some money off the table and has said he would not sell his champion mare at public auction as previously planned.
"If you saw that race (her 8-1/4 length win in the Pacific Classic) I think it transformed all of us on her ability," Hughes said. "It’s the first horse that I’ve ever had the emotion of being really proud of her and proud of being associated with her."
Bred by Clarkland Farm, Beholder has won 15 of 20 career starts including the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and 2013 Breeders' Cup Classic. With her expected start in the Classic, the bay mare will be attempting to become the first horse to win three different Breeders' Cup races - Goldikova won three straight editions of the Mile from 2008-2010 - and join Zenyatta as the only female runners to win the Classic.
She also may not be done. Hughes has repeatedly said that as long as Beholder is sound and happy, he would seriously consider bringing her back for a 6-year-old campaign.
"Everyone is enjoying her running and I think we retire horses pretty early in this business nowadays and that hurts the racing business," Hughes said. "So to have her come back is not only good for us to enjoy her but also for fans.
"She's going to have to be perfect though or we're not going to bring her back."