Behold! An impressive performance by Beholder

Beholder romps in the Pacific Classic – photo Nelvin C. Cepeda

A few weeks ago, it was Honor Code.  Yesterday, it was Beholder. Two great horses with a few question marks that have totally dazzled their skeptics. The 5-year-old mare Beholder had never raced longer than 1 1/8 mile. She had also never raced against this level of competition. But she romped in the 1 1/4 mile TVG Pacific Classic (video shown below), winning by 8 1/4 lengths and producing a sizzling time of 1:59.77. For comparison purposes, this time was faster than Shared Belief (2:00.28) and Game On Dude’s (2:00.69) times the two previous years. I had questioned Gary Stevens’ decision to ride Beholder over the more distance accomplished Catch a Flight from the Mandella stable. Catch a Flight is a great horse, he finished 2nd. But Gary Stevens knew what he was doing–Beholder liked the added distance. In fact, she excelled with the added distance.

Overall, this race gave us some valuable new information. Bayern, who finished 9th, is probably off the Breeders’ Cup Classic trail. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner hasn’t been the same horse since his injury earlier in the year. He seems to start well but fades down the stretch. Hard Aces finished a disappointing 6th and it appears that his win in the 2015 Gold Cup may have been a fluke. Hoppertunity finished 4th. He has never finished below 4th in ten graded stakes races. Red Vine had a surprisingly nice run finishing 3rd. It will be interesting to see the Beyer Speed Figures for this race tomorrow.

At any rate, the 2015 Breeders Cup Classic is shaping up to be a monster media event if Beholder’s owner chooses to enter her and he is leaning that way. So here is your future Boxed Superfecta for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I will post a more complete ranking list later in the week.

1) American Pharoah*  – He confirmed his #1 ranking with his performance in the Haskell Invitational with a sizzling 109 Beyer Speed Figure. He now has reeled off eight straight wins. He currently is ranked #1 in Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings and ranked #1 in the most recent NTRA’s Top Thoroughbred poll. His next start has been confirmed to be the Travers Stakes August 29th.

Career: 9 Starts 8-0-0-0, Win Pct: 88.9%, Top 3 Pct: 88.9%, Top 4 Pct: 88.9%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.95 – 8/2/15 (2015 Haskell Invitational)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:03.02 – 5/2/15 (2015 Kentucky Derby)
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 1st – 2015 Kentucky Derby

2) Beholder*  – She confirmed that she likes distance and can race with the boys. She received a 114 Beyer Speed Figure for her TVG Pacific Classic win. The first female to win the Pacific Classic.  She has reeled off five straight wins. She is currently is ranked #3 in the August 17th NTRA’s Top Thoroughbred poll. My guess is that she will move up to #2 in the next poll. Her next start will be the Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita on September 26th.

Career: 20 Starts 15-3-0-2, Win Pct: 75%, Top 3 Pct: 90%, Top 4 Pct: 100%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.77 – 11/1/13 (2013 Breeders Cup Distaffl)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 1:59.77 – 8/22/15 (2015 TVG Pacific Classic)
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 1st – 2015 TVG Pacific Classic

3) Honor Code* – The Met-Mile winner with a blazing 112 Beyer Speed Figure. He produced another sizzling 113 Beyer Speed Figure in the Whitney Handicap. This makes his 5th place finish in the Alysheba Stakes puzzling. He has a nice pedigree, the son of A.P. Indy and the grandson of Seattle Slew. He ranks 2nd in NTRA’s Top Thoroughbred behind American Pharoah. He has yet to race longer than 1 1/8th mile and that is why I can’t rank him ahead of American Pharoah despite his impressive speed figures. But I am not concerned as I think he will fare even better in a 1 1/4 mile race–he is bred for distance. His next start could be the Jockey Gold Cup race October 3rd at Belmont Park.

Career: 9 Starts 6-2-0-0, Win Pct: 66.7%, Top 3 Pct: 88.9%, Top 4 Pct: 88.9%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:47.82 – 8/8/15 (2015 Whitney Handicap)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: N/A

4) Tonalist  – Last year’s Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup winner. For 2015, he has one win in the Westchester Stakes, two 2nd places finishes (Met Mile and Suburban Handicap) and a 3rd place finish (Whitney Handicap). His third place finish in the Whitney Handicap produced a 110 Beyer Speed Figure. He produced a 108 Beyer in the Suburban Handicap and a 111 Beyer in the Met Mile. And he is better at races 1 1/4 mile or longer. He finished 5th in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last year. His next start will be the Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 3rd.

Career: 13 Starts 5-4-2-1, Win Pct: 38.5%, Top 3 Pct: 84.6%, Top 4 Pct: 92.3%
Fastest 1 1/8 Mile Time: 1:48.1 (calculated) – 8/8/15 (2015 Whitney Handicap)
Fastest 1 1/4 Mile Time: 2:00.69 (calculated) – 11/1/14 (2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic)
Best Finish in a 1 1/4 Mile Grade 1 Stakes Race: 1st – 2014 Jockey Club Gold Cup

* – indicates horses who have already qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Classic

The remaining “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races (Classic Division):

Sept. 26th – The Awesome Again Stakes at Santa Anita – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $250,000 – TVG
Oct. 3rd – Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational at Belmont – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC

Other Notable Classic Division Races:

Aug. 29th – The Travers Stakes at Saratoga – 1 1/4 Mile – Purse: $1,000,000 – NBC
Sept. 5th – The Woodward Stakes at Saratoga – 1 1/8 Mile – Purse: $600,000 –  NBCSN