Beholder big winner in Vanity

ARCADIA, Calif. -- The $400,000 Vanity Mile at Santa Anita on Saturday was the 10th career win in a Grade 1 for the three-time champion Beholder. A 6-year-old, Beholder has won 17 of 22 starts and earned $4,736,600. She has won eight consecutive stakes in the last 20 months.

For a moment, forget the remarkable statistics. Beholder is in the prime of her career and some of the people closest to her are celebrating moments such as Saturday's race.

"She makes me emotional," jockey Gary Stevens said.

"It was like she galloped around there," owner B. Wayne Hughes said.

Beholder, who is trained by Richard Mandella, was expected to win the Vanity Mile. She was the 1-10 favorite and had a perfect trip, although one that unfolded differently than expected. Lost Bus, the winner of the Grade 2 Santa Monica Stakes at seven furlongs here in January, set a slow pace of 25.03 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 49.31 for a half-mile.

A quicker pace was expected. Beholder was always within a length of the front, stalking the leader in a patient way, Stevens said.

"I was able to get her to switch off," Stevens said.

At the end of the backstretch, Stevens urged Beholder toward the lead. She led by a half-length with a quarter-mile remaining, by 2-1/2 lengths with a furlong to go, and won by 1-1/2 lengths over Stellar Wind, the 3-1 second choice.

Beholder was the champion older mare of 2015. Stellar Wind was the champion 3-year-old filly of 2015. The Vanity Mile was their first meeting, and Stellar Wind's first start since a second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Keeneland last October.

Stellar Wind's loss was a predictable result, and one that left trainer John Sadler satisfied. He said he was surprised the way the race unfolded.

"No pace developed," Sadler said. "Where was the speed?

"We're really happy. She ran well at the end. She wants to run farther. Give the winner props. She's a great champion."

Finest City, the winner of the Grade 2 Great Lady M Stakes at seven furlongs at Los Alamitos in April, finished third, followed by Lost Bus and Divina Comedia. All Star Bud and Taris, the winner of the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 7, were withdrawn on Saturday morning.

The third-place finish by Finest City was considered a successful outcome by trainer Ian Kruljac. The Vanity was Finest City's first placing in a Grade 1.

"We ran with some champions today," Kruljac said.

Beholder was timed in 1:35.97 and ran the final half-mile in 46.66 seconds. Stevens said the time could have been quicker.

"I geared her down in the last 50 yards," he said. "She loves her job."

Beholder has won both of her starts this year. She began the season with a win by 2-1/2 lengths in the Grade 3 Adoration Stakes at 1 1/16 miles here on May 8.

"She's amazing," Mandella said. "The other day was a cakewalk and this was a race."