High fever will keep Beholder out of Breeders' Cup

Beholder, with jockey Gary Stevens aboard, won the 2013 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Park. She won't  defend her title 
this year.
Beholder, with jockey Gary Stevens aboard, won the 2013 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita Park. She won't defend her title this year.

Two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder will miss her expected title defense in the Breeders' Cup Distaff this year after spiking a high fever Sunday morning, Spendthrift Farm's general manager Ned Toffey confirmed.

Beholder had worked 7 furlongs in a bullet 1:23.80 at Santa Anita Park on Saturday, but her Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella noted the fever Sunday and informed owner Spendthrift Farm there was "no scenario" given its severity that she would contest this year's Breeders' Cup.

"She had a great work yesterday and this morning had pretty high fever," Toffey said Sunday. "At this point we just have to look out for the filly."

Beholder won the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and the 2013 Distaff en route to divisional honors, the latter coming over a field that included fellow champion Royal Delta. The 4-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes was attempting this year to join three-time Mile winner Goldikova as the only horses to win three consecutive Breeders' Cup races.

"We're trying to keep some perspective on it," Toffey said. "Obviously that would have been an accomplishment to try and go after (three Breeders' Cup wins) but at the same time, this game is full of disappointments and this filly has given us so many great moments.

"We need to remember to be appreciative of that. Right now it's about taking care of her."

Beholder had most recently captured the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 27, her second win from three starts this year. The outing was the first start for the bay filly since she emerged from a fourth-place finish in the Grade I Odgen Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park on June 7 with a deep gash in her left hind pastern.

Even with fellow Grade I winners Close Hatches, Don't Tell Sophia and Untapable in the field, Beholder was expected to be the favorite in the Distaff as she is 8-for-9 lifetime over the Santa Anita surface.

Bred by Clarkland Farm, Beholder is scheduled to be sold at the upcoming Fasig-Tipton November sale on Nov. 3. Toffey said the intention is still to offer her at the auction provided her illness does not become something more serious.

"She had a pretty good fever so we need to see how this plays out," Toffey said. "That is our intention (to sell) but at the same time, if this were to unexpectedly drag on and it would preclude her from shipping ... obviously if you can't ship, you can't ship. But we're not at that point yet."

A six-time Grade I winner, Beholder has won 10 of 15 career starts with $3,368,300 in earnings.

"This is not the first time we've gotten a call like this and it won't be the last," Toffey said. "This game is not for the thin-skinned, but the number one thing is to do what is best for the filly."