The following story was first published at Paulick Report two weeks ago (oops! I’ve been busy).
With a 3 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita on Saturday, Beholder, last season’s champion juvenile filly, reasserted the form that brought her an Eclipse Award and a victory in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Her seasonal début had been a flat, second-place finish in the G2 Santa Ynez, but trainer Richard Mandella put his vet to checking her over after that race. The vet found a throat ulcer, which the trainer believed was responsible for the below-par performance.
Beholder proved him right with her dominating effort in the one-mile Las Virgenes, which she ran in 1:36.14. The race was her second G1 victory and fourth from seven starts for earnings of $1,395,000.
That’s a sizable pay-back for owner Wayne Hughes, who bought the good-looking bay filly out of the 2011 Keeneland September sale for $180,000, the second-highest price for a domestic yearling by Henny Hughes that year, when the stallion’s median sales figure was $17,818.
Hughes, of course, had more than a passing interest in the pedigree because his Spendthrift Farm owns and stands Beholder’s older half-brother Into Mischief (by Harlan’s Holiday). Winner of the G1 Hollywood Futurity at 2, Into Mischief ran second in the G1 Malibu at 3 and entered stud in 2009.
In the 18 months since the sale of Beholder at the 2011 September sale, Into Mischief has become one of the hottest second-crop sires, with a pair of sons on the classic trail, including Vyjack, who remained undefeated in four starts with a victory on Saturday in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. The sire’s stud fee has stepped up to $20,000 for the 2013 season.
Bred in Kentucky by the Clarkland Farm of Nancy and Fred Mitchell, Beholder is the fourth foal that Clarkland has bred from the mare after purchasing her in foal to Orientate for $100,000 at the 2006 Keeneland November sale from the dispersal of the estate of James T. Hines, also the breeder of Lawyer Ron.
Nancy Mitchell said that “Leslie’s Lady, the dam of Beholder, is a nice-looking mare with good size. She is one of 14 mares we have” at Clarkland, and the farm has a dozen yearlings scheduled for the September sale this fall.
Her daughter, Marty Buckner, is yearling manager for Clarkland and said that Beholder was a “very straightforward horse. Easy to raise, she kind of rose above the crop in everything she did. She was very pretty and always presented herself well. When we had to take them out of their routine, she always handled it well.”
The latter is not only a trait that allows a yearling to show itself to advantage at the sales but also comes in handy amid the noise and confusion of racetrack life, which Beholder has adapted to very well.
Structurally as a yearling, Beholder had “good bone, was very correct,” Buckner said. “She was very nice, big but not abnormally big. She was probably the last foal we had that year,” born on May 9.
That’s about as late as good sales foals arrive because “big is beautiful” in the eyes of the commercial marketplace. But Beholder and many other good racehorses show that foaling date is not as important as class, athleticism, a good mind, and a robust physique.
Beholder is the eighth foal of her dam, and the mare’s ninth is the Curlin 2-year-old colt Head Quarters, whom Clarkland sold last September for $300,000 to Juddmonte Farms.
After nine foals in a row, Leslie’s Lady was barren in 2012, but she got right back in foal and produced a full sister to Head Quarters on Feb. 2, Nancy Mitchell said. Clarkland is counting days on the mare after a recent cover to the Giant’s Causeway stallion Eskendereya.