Beholder arrives at Keeneland in search of third Breeders' Cup title

Beholder arrives at Keeneland Monday.
Beholder arrives at Keeneland Monday.

Surrounded by a paparazzi-like scene befitting the starlet she is, champion mare Beholder arrived at Keeneland on Monday afternoon in advance of her expected run against males in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Oct. 31.

Beholder arrived on a Tex Sutton flight that departed from California and landed at Bluegrass Airport shortly after 1 p.m. The two-time Eclipse Award-winning mare was the second horse off the plane and took the short van ride over to Keeneland where her Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella led her into Barn 60 himself.

With her bay coat the picture of health, Beholder tested her legendary trainer’s muscles as she was alert and full of vigor following her travels.

“I thought I was going to fly across there (the barn),” Mandella joked in reference to his charge’s eager demeanor. “We might have gone a mile ourselves. But that’s part of what makes her so good. She is a little better than when she was younger. She used to be tough like that all the time. Now it’s just moments.”

Mandella said Beholder would go to the track Tuesday around 7:15 a.m. for a “simple, short gallop” and would have one work leading up to the 1 1/4-mile Classic.

Owned by Spendthrift Farm, Beholder is seeking to become the first horse to ever win three different Breeders’ Cup races. The 5-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes captured the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park and came back the next year to win the $2 million Distaff, earning the Eclipse Award for divisional honors in each of those seasons.

Beholder was slated to run in last year’s Distaff but spiked a fever a couple weeks out from the race.

The illness proved a blessing in hindsight as Beholder has returned for her 5-year-old season in as great a form as she has ever held. When she faced males for the first time in the Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 22, she demolished a field that included 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern by 8 1/4 lengths. She returned to face her own gender in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 26 and turned in what amounted to a paid workout when she won by 3 1/4 lengths with jockey Gary Stevens gearing her down by midstretch.

Bred by Clarkland Farm, Beholder has won 15 of 20 career starts with $4,436,600 in earnings.