ARCADIA, Calif. – Beholder, prepping for a star-studded showdown with Princess of Sylmar and Close Hatches in the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park on June 7, worked a sharp mile Monday at Santa Anita and looked so good that trainer Richard Mandella did a giddy jig afterward
“I think she’s ready,” he said, breaking into a wide smile.
Beholder, a two-time Eclipse Award winner, beat both Princess of Sylmar and Close Hatches in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff last fall at Santa Anita. The Phipps will be the first time they’ve met since then, and the first time Beholder has raced outside of California since finishing second to Princess of Sylmar in last year’s Kentucky Oaks.
Gary Stevens was aboard for the work, which occurred just after a renovation break at 7:30 a.m. Mandella first had Beholder go to the training track to warm up, so as soon as the main track reopened, Beholder came straight down the stretch and went right off into her work, in company with Uncharted Course, once around from the seven-furlong pole.
Beholder started about three lengths back and was about five lengths in front crossing the wire, seven furlongs into the work. Mandella caught Beholder in fractions of 38 seconds for the first three furlongs, 1:02.40 for five furlongs, 1:26.80 for seven furlongs, a full mile in “1:38 and change,” then had her going out 1 1/8 miles in “1:53 and change.”
A private clocker, Gary Young, had Beholder in similar splits for seven furlongs and the mile. The official time from the track clockers was 1:40.20.
“She’s something else,” Stevens said minutes later. “She’s a friggin’ machine. She loves her job.”
Mandella said Beholder was scheduled to be flown to New York on Thursday and would have an easy work next week of about four furlongs at Belmont Park, with Stevens up.
The Phipps is part of a Breeders’ Cup-quality card supporting the Belmont Stakes, in which California Chrome will be attempting to sweep the Triple Crown.
Beholder has won four straight races. In the Distaff, she won by 4 1/4 lengths over Close Hatches, with Princess of Sylmar last of six after a dreadful start.
All three fillies are unbeaten since.
◗ At Belmont on Monday, Close Hatches worked five furlongs in 59.95 seconds over the Belmont Park main track. Close Hatches, working by herself, went a quick three furlongs in 35.41 seconds and came home her final quarter in 24.54.
“She went off strong, she finished, I thought, evenly,” trainer Bill Mott said.
On Sunday, Princess of Sylmar worked five furlongs in 1:01.31 over Belmont’s training track in company with Percussion.
“She seems to be in very good order,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Looks to be a sensational race.”