Beholder battling a slight fever; Smooth Roller jogs at Keeneland

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TwinSpires Staff

October 20th, 2015

Edited Press Release

Spendthrift Farm’s Beholder did not go to the track Tuesday morning for what would have been her first day of training at Keeneland.

“She has a little fever,” said Ned Toffey, general manager of Spendthrift Farm. “We are going to draw some blood and see how things look.”

The dual champion arrived at Keeneland Monday afternoon after a flight from Southern California. Trained by Richard Mandella, Beholder is being pointed to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on October 31.

The 5-year-old mare has captured all five starts this year, including a spectacular 8 ¼-length romp over males in the Pacific Classic (G1) two starts previously. Beholder worked five furlongs in 1:02 at Santa Anita last Thursday with regular rider Gary Stevens.

Smooth Roller, who is scheduled to make his first start outside of California in the 1 ¼-mile Classic, got his first sampling of the main track at Keeneland on a clear and chilly Tuesday morning, jogging once around under exercise rider Oscar Olguin for trainer Victor Garcia.

A $160,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale graduate, Smooth Roller punched his ticket to the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) with a 5¼-length victory in the Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita on September 26. That race was only the fourth start for the 4-year-old son of Hard Spun.

“We had to stop on him three times,” Garcia said of the gelding, who did not make his debut until June 27 this year at Santa Anita. “He is a big horse and we had to go slow with him. He had always worked well and we knew he had ability.”

Smooth Roller arrived at Keeneland Monday afternoon from Santa Anita, where Garcia has a stable of 17 horses.

Garcia never has raced a horse at Keeneland, but he has run in Kentucky in the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

“I was 24 when I came to Churchill Downs in 1988,” Garcia said. “And, I was in the exacta.”

Garcia’s Approved to Fly went off as the longest shot in the Juvenile Fillies (G1) at 42-1 and finished fourth, beaten less than three lengths under Hall of Famer Eddie Delahoussaye. Finishing ahead of Approved to Fly was three-fifths of the D. Wayne Lukas-trained entry of Open Mind, Darby Shuffle and Lea Lucinda.

“Everybody dreams of the Breeders’ Cup and Kentucky Derby,” Garcia said. “But you just never know with horses.”

Smooth Roller has won three of his four starts with his only setback coming in the Brubaker Stakes at Del Mar on August 26 when he finished fourth. Prior to the race, he became fractious at the gate, unseating rider Mike Smith.

“He stumbled coming out of the gate and then he was six wide on both turns,” Garcia said of the race in which Smooth Roller was beaten only 1¼ lengths.

Despite his limited experience, Smooth Roller went off as the third choice in the Awesome Again. The victory was the first Grade 1 win for Garcia.

Tyler Baze, who has been up for all three victories, is scheduled to work Smooth Roller next Monday.

Smooth Roller winning the Awesome Again courtesy of Benoit Photos