Beholder, Arrogate big winners at the Breeders’ Cup
With perfect weather and the picturesque backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains behind the track, Santa Anita Park hosted its record ninth Breeders’ Cup Championships on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5. During the two days, 13 races would be contested by some of the best Thoroughbreds in the sport. Of all the races, two of them, the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), saw four horses, two in each race, put on an amazing display of grace and power. Here’s a recap of those two races. The Distaff The field for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) was loaded; however, there were three horses that everyone was watching. To start, you had 6-year-old Beholder, a three-time Eclipse award winner (2012 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly, 2013 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly and 2015 Champion Older Female) and winner of last year’s Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar where she beat “the boys.” However, coming into the Breeders’ Cup, she had also finished second in her last three races – twice to Steller Wind in the Zenyatta Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita and in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar, and then to California Chrome when she tried to defend here 2015 win in the Pacific Classic. The Distaff would be her final career race and trainer Richard Mandella had a lot of work to do to prepare her to go out with a win. She was ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens. Then there was 3-year-old Songbird, the Eclipse award winner as 2015 Champion 2-Year-Old, who was undefeated in all 10 of her career races. She would go off as the favorite in the race with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith riding. Next you had 4-year-old Stellar Wind, winner of her two previous races over Beholder who was looking to make it three in a row. She was ridden by Victor Espinoza, who rode American Pharaoh to the Triple Crown last year. All of the horses broke cleanly, with Songbird going to the lead as she likes to do. Beholder settled into third place, biding her time, while Stellar Wind was close behind in fourth. The field stayed the same down the backstretch. However, as they moved around the far turn, Beholder began to move closer to the front, then moved past I’m A Chatterbox as that horse started to slow. As the field reached the top of the stretch, Beholder had moved up along ide Songbird and, from that point on, the two battled side-by-side down the entire length of the stretch. As the two horses gave everything they had, the excitment grew and the crowd’s roar got louder and louder. At the wire, in a photo finish, Beholder got the head bob to score the win, officially by a nose, but really by just a whisker. “She gave me absolutely everything,” said Stevens. “I have new respect for Songbird even in defeat. Beholder, even in the past, had never given me everything like she gave me today. “… It’s probably the most emotional race of my career because she’s (Beholder) so special to me and it’s her last race.” Beholder, who is by Henny Hughes-Leslie’s Lady, by Tricky Creek, ran the 1-1/8-mile race on a dirt track rated fast in 1:49.20. Owned by Spendthrift Farm, Beholder finishes her career with 18 wins, six seconds and $6,156,600 in earning in 26 starts. According to reports, she will be bred to Uncle Mo to begin her breeding career early next year. On a sad note about the Distaff was that Corona Del Inca (Arg) was pulled up by her jockey Pablo Falero as she neared the stretch. She was vanned off the track and examined, but her injuries were too severe and she had to be euthanized. The Classic This year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) lived up to its billing, as all nine horses were top caliber. However, out of all of them, California Chrome was the clear favorite, not just on the odds board, but by his fans – the “Chromies,” who were out in force to cheer him on. California Chrome, a two-time Eclipse award winner (2014 Horse of the Year and Champion 3-Year Old Male), came into the Classic after winning all six of his races in 2016, including the Dubai World Cup and the Pacific Classic. He was ridden by Victor Espinoza. Then there was Arrogate, a 3-year-old with only five races in his career. But in his last race, the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, he put on a show, winning the race by 13-1/2 lengths and set a new track record in the process. Because of his large size, his Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, took his time with him and let him grow into his body, which is why he didn’t run in the Spring Classics (Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes). He was ridden in the race by Smith. Another horse fans were watching was Frosted, who was coming into the race after finishing third in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga. However, earlier in the year, he had a number of good wins, namely the Whitney Stakes (G1) at Saratoga, the Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont and the Al Maktoum Challenge (Round 2) in Dubai. He was ridden by Joel Rosario. In the race, California Chrome broke cleanly and went for the lead as he likes to do. Behind him, Arrogate broke a little slow, and then settled about three wide in third place, with Frosted right behind him in fourth. The field remained the same down the backstretch, but then going into the far turn, things began to change. With California Chrome still in the lead, Smith began to move Arrogate towards the front, while Frosted began to fade. During the turn, as California Chrome held onto his lead, Espinoza kept looking over his shoulder for Arrogate, the horse he knew he would have to beat to get the win. Meanwhile, Smith had ducked Arrogate close to the fence to save ground and to help try and sneak up on Espinoza. The plan worked. As they came out of the turn and reached the stretch, Arrogate ran by Melatonin to take over second place, then took aim at California Chrome. By that point, Espinoza realized he was in trouble, as everyone could see it would be a two-horse race to the finish. According to reports, Smith heard Espinoza say, “Damn it,” when he finally saw how close Arrogate was to him. Give credit to 5-year-old California Chrome, though, as he fought hard all the way down the stretch to hold off the hard-charging Arrogate. But, near the wire, Arrogate took the lead and got the win by a half-length. “That was incredible,” said Smith, who now has a record 25 wins in the Breeders’ Cup. “I’m at a loss for words. He’s such a young horse. He’s so talented. He’s got amazing stamina. He doesn’t quit. He could have gone around again. He’s incredible.” Arrogate, who is by Unbridled’s Song-Bubbler, by Distorted Humor, ran the 1-1/4-mile race on a dirt track rated fast in 2:00.11. With the win, he now has five wins, one third and $1,384,600 in earnings in six career starts. Here are the winners of all the 2016 Breeders’ Cup races. Here are the winners of all the 2016 Breeders' Cup races. Friday, Nov. 4 2016 * $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf: Oscar Performance. * $1 million Las Vegas Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile: Tamarkuz. * $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf: New Money Honey. * $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff: Beholder. Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 * $2 million: Hands Winery Breeders' Up Juvenile Fillies: Champagne Room. * $ 2 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf: Queen Trust (GB). * 1.5 million Twin Spires Breeders' Cup Spring: Drefong. * $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Spring: Obviously (Ire). * $2 million Sentinent Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile: Classic Empire. * $4 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf: Highland Reel (Ire). * $1 million Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint: Finest City. * $2 million Breeders' Cup Mile: Tourist. * $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic: Arrogate. (Information gathered from Equibase.com, SantaAnita.com, BloodHorse.com and PedigreeQuery.com)
This article is dedicated to the memory of Mildred “Mimi” Chandler, who loved the horses and was a big Thoroughbred racing fan.