There's one simple phrase to describe two-time champion Beholder -- top-class.
Spendthrift Farm's 5-year-old mare again showed her talent in the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 1, toying with the field to win by seven lengths without feeling the whip from Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens.
It was the seventh Grade 1 victory of her 18-race career; she has won a top-level event in every year she's raced -- at ages 2, 3, 4, and now 5.
The daughter of Henny Hughes stalked the early pace as My Sweet Addiction led through a quarter-mile in :23.91 seconds seconds. Honey Ride took over the lead to run a half-mile in :47.86 seconds, but the champion advanced and eventually took command in the final turn after six furlongs in 1:11.86.
Still unmoving, Stevens glanced back exiting the turn, opened the Richard Mandella trainee up, and glided away.
"She's improving and things are getting easier for her," Stevens said. "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 6-1/2 [furlong pole]."
Longshot Yahilwa, at odds of 25-1, was a far-back second, followed by Grade 1 winner Warren's Veneda 4-1/2 lengths back in third. Beholder hit the wire 1:43.81 for the 1 1/16 miles on dirt labeled fast.
"[Trainer James Cassidy] had her ready," said Yahilwa's jockey James Graham. "A few things go differently out there and [Beholder] might have been chasing me home. I'm not going to say we'd beat her, but I think it might have been closer."
"No pace. Just no pace," said Tyler Baze, the jockey aboard Warren's Veneda. "Everyone was running for a piece. What are you going to do? We've got to have pace. And we gave [Beholder] weight."
After the race, Mandella also dropped a bombshell. Beholder may run against the boys in the $1 million Pacific Classic Aug. 22 at Del Mar.
"She's done so much for us, we need to consider the most likely scenario is to be conservative and wait for the Zenyatta [Stakes Sept. 26 at Santa Anita Park], but we may look at the Pacific Classic here in three weeks if she looks strong enough," Mandella said.
My Sweet Addiction tired to fourth, followed by Honey Ride, My Monet, Legacy, and Thegirlinthatsong, to complete the order of finish. Gusto Dolce scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm out of the Tricky Creek mare Leslie's Lady, Beholder now has $3,656,600 in earnings with thirteen wins and three seconds from 18 starts.