Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oaks Contender: Beholder

A filly has not won both the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) and Kentucky Oaks (GI) since Silverbulletday completed the feat in 1999. Last year, only one filly that contested in the Juvenile Fillies even ran in the Oaks. But this year, champion two-year-old filly Beholder – who captured the premier race for female juveniles – will compete for the garland of lilies.

Photo by Terri Cage

Fourth in her debut behind future grade one winner and rival Executiveprivilege, Beholder broke her maiden in the midst of the Del Mar meet, capturing a five and one-half-furlong maiden special weight by an easy 3 ¼ lengths. Entering grade one company for her third start, Beholder again lost to Executiveprivilege – this time by just a nose in the Del Mar Debutante Stakes (GI). The Richard Mandella trainee had given the undefeated filly the biggest test of her career to date.

After an 11-length demolition of a six-furlong allowance over the dirt at Santa Anita, Beholder’s connections pondered whether the filly should run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint against males, or the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) – in which she would face stiffer competition and go the longest distance she had raced at yet.

They chose the Juvenile Fillies. Turning the tables on Executiveprivilege, Beholder led from start to finish prior to digging deep in the homestretch to repel her rival’s rally, winning by one length in a thrilling display of determination.

Making her sophomore debut in the Santa Ynez Stakes (GII), Beholder sat off the pace and despite garnering a narrow advantage around the far turn, Beholder struggled to outduel a rival down the lane and was overtaken in the final stages of the race, finishing second.

But the champion did not stay away from the winner’s enclosure for long. In her subsequent start, the Las Virgenes Stakes (GI) – which has been won by a pair of Kentucky Oaks winners in the past six years –, Beholder returned to setting the pace, receiving an easy trip around the track to win by a commanding 3 ¾ lengths. Going a mile and one-sixteenth for the first time since the Breeders’ Cup, Beholder made her final prep for the Kentucky Oaks in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI), in which she again was given an easy lead, winning the grade one event by 2 ¾ lengths.

It is no secret that Beholder is a speedy filly, but can she hold that speed over nine furlongs? Her pedigree suggests she can.

Beholder's pedigree
From pedigreequery.com

Beholder is a daughter of brilliant sprinter Henny Hughes, who never won beyond seven furlongs. As a sire, he has primarily produced sprinters, although he has sired Welcome Dance – a stakes winner at nine furlongs, the distance of the Oaks. Henny Hughes is a son of Hennessy – another horse who excelled at short distances. But Hennessy produced many distance horses, including Silver Tree – a graded stakes winner that was victorious up to ten furlongs; Inglorious – a classic winner at ten furlongs; Half Hennessy – a group one winner at 2,400 meters (about twelve furlongs); Wiseman’s Ferry – a graded stakes winner at nine furlongs; Orchard Park – a graded stakes winner that won up to ten furlongs; and Toasted – a graded stakes winner that won up to eleven furlongs. Hennessy is a son of the late, great sire Storm Cat, who produced many distance horses, including
After Market, Bluegrass Cat, Cat Thief, Giant’s Causeway, Good Reward, Storm Flag Flying, and Tabasco Cat.

Stemming from a rich female family, Beholder is out of the black-type-winning Leslie’s Lady, who has also produced Into Mischief – a grade one winner that has sired 2013 Kentucky Derby (GI) contenders Goldencents and
Vyjack. Leslie’s Lady is a daughter of Tricky Creek – a graded stakes winner at nine furlongs.

The granddam of Beholder is sired by Stop the Music, who won the Dwyer Stakes when it was contested at ten furlongs. A son of champion Hail to Reason, Stop the Music sired an abundance of distance horses, including Alla Breva, Missy’s Mirage, Sing Sing, and Temperence Hill. The filly’s fourth dam is a daughter of the great Sea-Bird II, who is considered one of the best Thoroughbred racehorses to ever live. Sea-Bird II – or simply Sea Bird – won many prestigious distance races, including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (GI) and the Epsom Derby (GI).

Beholder’s fifth dam is the multiple stakes-winning Patelin, a charm to have in a horse’s tail female line. The black mare was a daughter of the Reine de Course mare Pontivy and thus a direct descendant of the additional Reine de Course mares Golden Apple, Lou Lanier, and Thorn Apple, as well as the influential British-bred mare Gallopade. Kentucky Derby victor
I’ll Have Another, too, is a direct descendant of Pontivy through Patelin, as he and Beholder share the same dam line beginning with their fourth dam. Triple Crown winner Affirmed and Derby winner Mine That Bird also descend from the Gallopade line.

The Kentucky Oaks field has shaped up to be an incredibly competitive race, featuring numerous very talented fillies. Which one will take home the lilies is a gamble, but it is no secret that Beholder is among the classiest competitors in the race.

Beholder winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies
Photo by Terri Cage

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