In an amazing performance, two-time Eclipse Award champion Beholder overcame serious traffic trouble in the early stages of Saturday’s Grade I $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes to score a brilliant seven-length triumph under jockey Gary Stevens.
The five-year-old mare, owned by the Spendthrift Farm of B. Wayne Hughes and trained by Richard Mandella, broke well but was outrun into the clubhouse turn and appeared to be bounced around between rivals. Stevens finally was able to obtain running room early on the backstretch of the mile and one-sixteenth event.
Once in the clear down the backstretch, Beholder moved up to engage the pacesetting longshot My Sweet Addiction, disposed of that rival entering the stretch and then drew off impressively under only hand urging from Stevens. Scoring her 13th win in 18 lifetime efforts, the daughter of Henny Hughes earned a prize of $180,000 to increase her bankroll to $3,656,600.
After the race, Mandella indicated that consideration would be given to running Beholder against males in the Grade I $1 million TVG Pacific Classic in three weeks.
Beholder, scoring the 11th stakes success of her career, went postward the overwhelming 3-10 favorite and returned $2.60, $2.20 and $2.10. Because of heavy action on Beholder, there was a minus show pool of $48,841. Time for the distance was 1:43.81.
Runner-up Yahilwa, sent to the gate at 13-1 with James Graham, was four and one-quarter lengths in front of Warren’s Veneda at the wire, with My Sweet Addiction fading to fourth in the field of eight. Yahilwa paid $7 and $4.80, while Warren’s Veneda returned $2.60 to show.
The Clement L. Hirsch Stakes is part of the Breeders’ Cup’s “Win and You’re In” challenge series wherein the winner earns an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland in late October, with entry fee and travel expenses paid by the Breeders’ Cup.
“We may take a look at the Pacific Classic,” Mandella said. “It’s been in the back of my mind a while. The timing is good. We’re far enough away from the Breeders’ Cup to do it. It’ll be up to her and Mr. Hughes, obviously. I’ll have to get his approval.”
The Pacific Classic is Del Mar’s signature race, contested at the classic American distance of a mile and one-quarter. Four females have tried, the best finish being a fifth by Paseana in l992.
“She’s just amazing” said Hall of Famer Stevens after the race. “She’s scary. She’s just too much. This isn’t work, this is fun.”
On an afternoon dominated by upsets, there were no perfect tickets in the Pick Six. Thus, Sunday’s program will feature a carryover of $151,427. Post time for the first race is 2 p.m.
GARY STEVENS (Beholder, winner) – “She’s just amazing; she’s scary. I worked her the other day and got off and said ‘Boss (to trainer Richard Mandella), I don’t know how this is possible, but I think she’s getting better.’ She’s improving and things are getting easier for her. She went from being a cantankerous kid to a laid-back grandma. I told Richard I was just going to let her fall out of there today and see where I was going into the first turn. That we’d figure it out from there. We had a spot and they slowed it down on us. Finally, I just said ‘That’s it,’ and I let her go. Her acceleration just put us in front without really trying. The race was effectively over at the six and a half (furlong pole). She’s just too much. This isn’t work, I’ll tell you. This is fun.”
JAMES GRAHAM (Yahilwa, second) – “James (trainer James Cassidy) can train one up. He had her ready. A few things go differently out there (an apparent reference to pace), and she might have been chasing me home. I’m not going to say we’d beat her, but I think it might have been closer.”
TYLER BAZE (Warren’s Veneda, third) – “No pace. Just no pace. Everyone was running for a piece. What are you going to do? We’ve got to have pace. And we gave that mare weight (123 to 121`).”
SANTIAGO GONZALEZ (My Sweet Addiction, fourth) – “My mare ran hard. She ran well all the way. But that winner – a champion.”
RICHARD MANDELLA (Beholder, winner) –“We may take a look at the Pacific Classic (Aug. 22, 1 1/4m, $1-million). It has been in the back of my mind a while. The timing is good. We’re far enough away from the Breeders’ Cup to do it. The question will be that it’s three weeks (to the race) and will she look good enough to do that. It’ll be up to her and Mr. (B. Wayne) Hughes, obviously. I’ll have to get his approval. I was glad to see that she got out of the inside and got in the clear where she wouldn’t be compromised in her chance to win anyway. Gary did a masterful job of doing that and when they went down the backside it looked like poetry.”
FRACTIONS: :23.91 :47.86 1:11.86 1:37.17 1:43.81
The stakes win was the second of the meet for rider Stevens (he won the San Diego with Catch A Flight for trainer Mandella) and his second in the Hirsch (Magical Maiden in 1993, who was owned by Clement L. Hirsch). He now has 84 stakes victories at Del Mar, seventh best of all time.
The stakes win was the second of the meet for trainer Mandella (won San Diego with Catch A Flight with Stevens), but his first in the Hirsch. He now has 55 stakes triumphs at Del Mar, fifth best of all time.
The owner, Spendthrift Farm, is the nom de course of B. Wayne Hughes of Malibu, CA and Lexington, KY.