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 5 furlongs in :59.40 over the Keeneland main track Monday morning.
The move comes less than a week after the 5-year-old 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 proved as spry as ever as she clocked splits of 122⁄5, :24, :36 with a gallop out in 1:124⁄5.
"She was just having a nice time, the time was good, she was good," trainer Richard Mandella said of the move. "It was just maintenance, just get some wind in her because it's been awhile between works. Just testing the water, and the water looked good."
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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 he would not sell his champion mare at public auction as previously planned.
"If you saw that race (her 81/4-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 Distaff. With her expected start in the Classic, the bay mare will try 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 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."
Sticksstatelydude out of Juvenile
Sticksstatelydude, the fourth-place finisher in the Grade I Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 3, will miss the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Saturday because of a tendon strain in one of his front legs, according to trainer Greg Burchell.
Sticksstatelydude put in a strong 4-furlong move in :47.20 at Keeneland on Oct. 23 but Burchell said he noticed heat in the leg in the aftermath. Burchell said the son of First Dude would probably have 30 days of laser treatment on the injury with designs on coming back for his 3-year-old season.
"It's very minimal but it's there," Burchell said. "With technology these days, you can't act like you don't see it. There would be the chance that you could do more damage to it and really hurt him, so I'd rather just give him the time and strengthen it back up. I'll give him as much time as he needs and ultrasound it again in 30-45 days and see what it looks like and go from there."
Sticksstatelydude broke his maiden at Saratoga second time out on Aug. 1.
The defection of Sticksstatelydude from the Juvenile allows Group II winner Waterloo Bridge to get into the 14-horse field.
Lea heads to Dirt Mile
Grade I winner Lea will be back on the surface where he has enjoyed his greatest success.
After Lea turned in a bullet 4-furlong workout in :47.40 over the Keeneland main track Monday, trainer Bill Mott confirmed Lea will run in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Friday rather than in Saturday's Mile contest on the turf course.
Lea is coming off a runner-up finish in the Grade I Woodbine Mile on the turf and had originally been slated to stay on the grass for his final career start before going to stud at Claiborne Farm.
His lone career Grade I win did come on the dirt in the 2014 Donn Handicap, and his move Monday — along with a forecast of more rain which could further soften the turf course — made the Dirt Mile the new swan-song target.
"Lea is going in the Dirt Mile, number one, because he can run on the dirt," Mott said. "He's a Grade I winner on the dirt, he's got a track record on the dirt, and it looks to me like the turf is going to be extremely soft. It was soft today, and I think with another couple inches of rain, it's going to be soft on Saturday."
Busy work day at Keeneland
Beholder's move highlighted a day in which several Breeders' Cup contenders turned in their final moves.
Untapable (Distaff) and stablemate Tapiture (Dirt Mile) each worked 4 furlongs, with the former going in :50.20 and Tapiture clocked in :49.20.
Fellow Steve Asmussen trainees Holy Boss (Sprint) and Nickname (Juvenile Fillies) also went 4 furlongs with both being clocked in :49.60.
Tourist (Mile) breezed 4 furlongs on the grass in :51.20 and Harmonize (Juvenile Fillies Turf) went 4 furlongs in :48.80.
Judy the Beauty put the finishing touches on her defense attempt in the Filly & Mare Sprint with a 5-furlong move in :59.80. Super Majesty also tuned up for the Filly & Mare Sprint with a half-mile move in :48.