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Oct 10, 2014

Beholder successfully defends Zenyatta crown


Arcadia, CA ( - Two-time champion filly Beholder successfully defended her title in Saturday's $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita on her way to this year's Breeders' Cup.

Beholder, the 2-5 favorite versus four challengers in the 1 1/16-mile race, used a stalking run from the outside to post her second straight win in the stakes and gain an automatic berth in next month's Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita.

Trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, Beholder and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith held off a stubborn Tiz Midnight to post a three-quarters length victory. Smith substituted for Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens who is recovering from knee surgery.

Getting third in the Zenyatta was Iotapa followed by Yahilwa and Wittgenstein. Tiz the Key was a scratch.

The time for the Zenyatta was 1:42.19 on a fast track.

"She felt great, really good. We were worried about her getting a little tired," Smith said. "We were hoping we could get a bit tired but still win in hand but I had to ride her a little. The second-place mare, Tiz Midnight, is a race-fit mare. She made us do a little more than we thought we were going to have to. It could be a blessing in disguise as well because we certainly needed a good race like that."

Owned by Spendthrift Farm, Beholder picked up her 10th career win from 15 starts and pocketed $180,000. The 4-year-old filly has lifetime earnings of $3,368,300.

Beholder was injured during the Ogden Phipps Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day when she finished fourth behind Close Hatches. She began her 2014 campaign by winning the Santa Lucia at Santa Anita on April 20.

"She got hurt in the race at Belmont," Mandella noted. "She got a big cut on her left hind pastern, and we had just healed it up and we were working at Del Mar, when playing around, she hit it and knocked the injury open enough that we had to put five stitches in it."

Beholder won last year's Distaff to go along with her victory in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Those wins propelled her to Eclipse Awards as champion 2012 2-year-old filly and 2013 3-year-old filly.

The filly will be offered for sale at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale on Monday, Nov. 3, following her defense of the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

"I've been lucky enough to have many good mares in my years of training, but this mare might have to be the best of all," Mandella said.

Beholder paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10. Tiz Midnight returned $3.80 and $2.40, and Iotapa paid $2.10 to show.

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