Shapiro looks forward to Beholder in Clement Hirsch
by SCOTT SHAPIRO
After two of the top males on the West Coast put on a show for the Del Mar faithful last weekend, the older females take center stage on Saturday afternoon in the $300,000 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (G1).
Three-time Eclipse Award winning mare Beholder headlines the field for the Clement L. Hirsch. A strong crowd should be on hand to see the Spendthrift Farm runner look to make it nine consecutive stakes wins in a row. She has not lost since finishing a disappointing fourth in the Ogden Phipps (G1) at Belmont Park back in 2014.
Very few runners bring the excitement to Southern California racing that the daughter of Henny Hughes has over the past few years. Her combination of class and speed is surely a sight to see, as his her strong desire to win.
There have been plenty of great moments over the past decade on the Southern California circuit, but the breathtaking move Beholder made against the boys in last summer’s Classic stands amongst the top on the list. Saturday she looks to once again win the first of two Grade 1 events during the Del Mar summer meeting and build on a resume that will put her amongst the greatest females to ever run “Where the Turf Meets the Surf.”
The fans are not the only ones that greatly anticipate every time they get to see Beholder perform. Trainer Richard Mandella is just as giddy. He has had a plethora of stars in his barn during his Hall of Fame career, but it is hard to imagine him loving any of them more than the six-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes.
Mandella was so pleased with his star mare’s eye-popping five furlong in :59.20 Sunday morning work, that he busted out a phrase from the Buck Owens country classic “Act Naturally.” When asked how often workouts inspire karaoke after singing the lyric “Bet you I’m gonna be a big star,” Mandella declared, “Very few, actually. This might be a first.”
Mandella actually had the work in :58 and 3 and said, “She’s ready.”
Also included amongst those that greatly enjoy watching Beholder run is owner B. Wayne Hughes. Most owners would have retired a runner of this caliber long ago, but Hughes is in it for the sport and loves to see his mare run. In fact, he has even discussed the idea of running her again in 2017 as a seven-year-old if she can remain healthy.
In most cases outside of the Pacific Classic, Beholder has stood out on class and form during her eight-race winning streak, but on Saturday she could be tested much like fellow fan favorite California Chrome was last weekend.
2015 champion three-year-old filly Stellar Wind makes the second start of her four-year-old campaign for John Sadler and Hronis Racing. She ran well in her comeback race at Santa Anita and should be ready for a career best performance in the Clement L. Hirsch. That likely will not be enough to beat Beholder to the wire, but it should at least make the event competitive.
If all goes well for Beholder, the plan is to send her against the boys once again in the one million dollar Pacific Classic on August 20. She dominated that event last year with a powerful move three-wide move on the far turn and an eight and a quarter length victory under moderate urging late from jockey Gary Stevens.
While everyone will be excited to see Beholder return to Del Mar on Saturday, most will be hoping for a clean and safe voyage setting things up for a Pacific Classic to remember with her, California Chrome and Dortmund. If all three make it to the meet’s premier race, many experts will consider it the race of the year.
Beholder photo courtesy of Benoit