Beholder (KY)

Champion as a juvenile, champion as a 3-year-old, twice champion as an older mare. Those are just some of the numerous remarkable exploits of the marvelous Beholder, one of the most consistently spectacular racehorses of the 21st century.

Inducted

2022

Foaled

2010

Sire

Henny Hughes

Dam

Leslie's Lady

Damsire

Tricky Creek

Breeder

Clarkland Farm

Owner

Spendthrift Farm

Trainer

Richard E. Mandella

Career

2012-2016

Earnings

$6,156,000

Racing Record

26

Starts

Year Starts First Second Third Earnings
Year Sts 1 2 3 $
2012 5 3 1 0 $1215000 $1,215,000
2013 7 5 2 0 $1860000 $1,860,000
2014 3 2 0 0 $293300 $293,300
2015 5 5 0 0 $1068300 $1,068,300
2016 6 3 3 0 $1720000 $1,720,000

Biography

Champion as a juvenile, champion as a 3-year-old, twice champion as an older mare. Those are just some of the numerous remarkable exploits of the marvelous Beholder, one of the most consistently spectacular racehorses of the 21st century.

“She was exceptional for a long, long time,” said Richard Mandella, Beholder’s Hall of Fame trainer. “When you think about the best horses, the ones in the Hall of Fame, many were either sensational for a short period, maybe a year, or they were consistently good for an extended stretch of time. A long run of greatness, however, doesn’t happen all that often. Beholder was both great and enduring. She’s a Hall of Famer any way you want to define it.”

In a five-year career from 2012 through 2016, Beholder made 26 starts with a record of 18-6-0 and earnings of $6,156,600. She won four Eclipse Awards and became only the second horse to win three Breeders’ Cup races (joining fellow Hall of Famer Goldikova). Along the way, she won 13 graded stakes, including 11 Grade 1s, and became the first filly or mare to defeat males in the Grade 1 Pacific Classic. Since 1976, she is the only horse to win at least one Grade 1 race every year from ages 2 through 6.

Bred in Kentucky by Clarkland Farm, Beholder was sired by multiple Grade 1 winner Henny Hughes out of stakes-winning mare Leslie’s Lady (Tricky Creek). Purchased by Spendthrift Farm for $180,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Beholder finished fourth in her career debut on June 28, 2012, at Hollywood Park. Less than a month later, she broke her maiden at Del Mar. Advancing to stakes company for the first time in her third start, Beholder finished second by a nose to Executiveprivilege in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante.

Mandella set Beholder up for a shot at the Breeders’ Cup with a six-furlong allowance at Santa Anita in early October. Announcing her presence with authority, she romped by 11 lengths to set up a rematch with Executiveprivilege a month later at Santa Anita in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile with division championship honors on the line. With her regular pilot Garrett Gomez in the irons, Beholder turned the tables on Executiveprivilege, defeating her by a length to secure her first Breeders’ Cup and lock up the Eclipse Award for Champion 2-Year-Old Filly.

After beginning her sophomore season with a nose defeat in the Santa Ynez Stakes, Beholder returned to her winning ways with consecutive Grade 1 victories in the Las Virgenes Stakes and Santa Anita Oaks before finishing a half-length behind longshot Princess of Sylmar in the Kentucky Oaks. Following the Oaks, Beholder did not race again until September, returning with new rider Gary Stevens to win the Torrey Pines Stakes and Zenyatta Stakes before capping her campaign with a 4¼-length victory over Close Hatches in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. It was the first time a Juvenile Fillies winner went on to win the Distaff the following year. The Eclipse for Champion 3-Year-Old Filly followed.

In an abbreviated season as a 4-year-old in 2014, Beholder raced only three times. She suffered an injury in the Ogden Phipps Stakes and was later unable to contest the Breeders’ Cup because she spiked a fever in training. Spendthrift’s owner, the late B. Wayne Hughes, had planned to enter Beholder in Fasig-Tipton’s November Sale that year, but he changed his mind and decided she would remain in training for a 2015 campaign.

Beholder was unbeatable upon her return in 2015, winning all five of her starts, including Grade 1s in the Clement L. Hirsch, Pacific Classic, and a third consecutive Zenyatta Stakes. The Pacific Classic performance was one for the ages. The only female in the field of nine, Beholder cruised to an 8¼-length victory in the 1¼-mile test at Del Mar. Her time of 1:59.77 was the third-fastest in the history of the race and her margin of victory was the second-largest. Following the race, Hughes said Beholder was “the first horse who has made me feel lucky to be her owner.” Mandella added: “We didn’t think she would do it quite like that. We thought it was the girls she was picking on. I think the boys pissed her off.”

Following the Zenyatta win, Mandella planned to take on the boys again in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland, but Beholder didn’t handle the trip well. After arriving in Kentucky, she developed a fever and was scratched a couple days prior to the race because of irritated lungs. Although she had to pass on the Breeders’ Cup, Beholder had earned her third Eclipse Award, this one as Champion Older Dirt Female.

In her 2016 debut, Beholder won the Adoration Stakes at Santa Anita for the second consecutive year. She then pushed her win streak to eight with a victory in the Grade 1 Vanity Mile, defeating champion Stellar Wind to match Hall of Famer John Henry with a Grade 1 win in five consecutive years. Stellar Wind, however, got the best of Beholder next out in the Clement L. Hirsch, earning a half-length victory following a furious stretch duel. Three weeks later, Beholder looked to repeat in the Pacific Classic, but two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome led from gate to wire and defeated her by five lengths. In October, Beholder finished second for the third consecutive time when Stellar Wind turned her back by a neck in the Zenyatta Stakes, denying her bid for a fourth victory in the race.

Beholder then returned to Santa Anita for one more Breeders’ Cup run after missing the event the previous two years. The talented Distaff field included Stellar Wind and the undefeated and odds-on favorite Songbird.

Breaking from the outside post in the eight-horse field, Beholder tracked the leaders along the backstretch before moving alongside Songbird entering the turn for home in what developed into a breathtaking dash for immortality. Stevens described the stretch run as “a quarter of a mile of just a street fight.” Matching strides, Beholder and Stevens slugged it out with Songbird and Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith. At the wire, Beholder had a scant nose in front in one of the most memorable Breeders’ Cup races in the event’s extraordinary history.

“I’ve been in battles before, but never the length of the stretch,” Stevens said. “Racing doesn’t get better than that. What a way to go out.”

The Breeders’ Cup victory put a bow on the five-year gift that was Beholder’s storybook career. More honors followed, as she took home another Eclipse Award, her second as Champion Older Dirt Female, and her fourth overall. Beholder was retired to Spendthrift Farm in Kentucky, where she resides as a broodmare. In 2017, Santa Anita renamed the Vanity Mile the Beholder Mile. The Vanity was one of 14 races Beholder won in her 16 starts at the famous California track.

In summing up his experiences with Beholder, the witty Stevens said it was like “driving a Mack truck with the speed of a Porsche and the brain of a rocket scientist.”

“It’s been something I wouldn’t have been able to have imagined,” Mandella said of training Beholder. “I won four races on Breeders’ Cup day in (1993) … and I thought ‘Boy, this will never happen again.’ Then in 2003 we won four Breeders’ Cup races and this mare just keeps on running.

“I don’t know what I did to deserve it.”

Achievements

  • Eclipse Award Champion 2-Year-Old Filly — 2012
  • Eclipse Award Champion 3-Year-Old Filly — 2013
  • Eclipse Award Champion Older Female — 2015
  • Eclipse Award Champion Older Female — 2016

Breeders' Cup Highlights

  • Won the Juvenile Fillies — 2012
  • Won the Distaff — 2013
  • Won the Distaff — 2016

Notable 

  • Won 13 graded stakes
  • Only horse since 1976 to win at least one Grade 1 race every year from ages 2 through 6
  • One of only two horses to win three Breeders’ Cup races (along with Goldikova)
  • First filly or mare to win the Pacific Classic

Media

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