That’s Beholder, the 5-year-old mare who has both a 2-year-old and 3-year-old Eclipse trophy on her mantle and will likely add an older female award in 2016. She’s currently one of the top three contenders when discussing next month’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Her stunning performance in last month’s Pacific Classic at Del Mar propelled her into the Classic conversation and she’ll be running this weekend to prep for the big race at Keeneland to be held on Halloween night.
Her move on the far turn in the Pac Classic is worth another look.
She’ll be running in the $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes on Santa Anita Park’s opening weekend Saturday afternoon. A Classic win would be the second ever by a female, Zenyatta herself won the 2009 Classic on the Pro-Ride synthetic surface before finishing second at Churchill Downs in the 2010 Classic in her final race. Zenyatta also won her namesake race three times from 2008 to 2010, when it was known as the Lady’s Secret.
What else is going around the thoroughbred tracks this weekend? Let’s take a spin…
• Bayern will seek to recapture the magic of 2014 in the Awesome Again on Saturday, also at Santa Anita Park. The 2014 Classic winner has struggled through this year’s campaign and will look to his favored home track to reverse fortune.
• The Beldame at Belmont Park looks to be a scrappy race. Curalina, a daughter of Curlin, will take on older horses for the first time after finishing third in the Alabama, after winning the Coaching Club American Oaks via disqualification at Saratoga. She’ll face a salty group led by Wedding Toast who won the Ogden Phipps on the Belmont Stakes undercard in her last effort. Trainer Todd Pletcher will be looking for a record sixth Beldame, he last won the race in 2013 with Princess of Sylmar.
• Staying in New York for their first of two “Super Saturdays,” Rock Fall will look to continue his hot streak in the Vosburgh at Belmont. A familiar group of challengers including Palace, Stallwalkin’ Dude and Wildcat Red will try and keep him from winning his second straight Grade 1 victory.
• Good news to hear that Shared Belief is back in training at Santa Anita and is pointing towards the winter meet there. He was injured in the Charles Town Classic in April and was shelved for most of the year attempting to recover. The 4-year-old gelding is expected to continue to run in his 5-year-old campaign.
• Alabama winner Embellish the Lace was retired yesterday due to a leg injury, discovered by her trainer following her fifth-place finish in the $1 million Cotillion at Parx.
• Remington Park’s biggest day is Sunday when the Oklahoma Derby will be run. Second-place Preakness finisher Tale of Verve leads several talented colts to the southwest to capture the $400,000 Grade 3 contest. Contenders include Classy Class, Souper Colossal and Desert Dynamo that will challenge Tale of Verve going 1 1/8-miles.
• Get well soon wishes to D. Wayne Lukas who was hospitalized last weekend after the Pennsylvania Derby and had a pacemaker installed. The 80-year-old conditioner has won 14 Triple Crown races over his career and has quite the tree of current trainers that earned their wings underneath the Coach.
• Speaking of the Pennsylvania Derby, Frosted put in his most impressive race since his win in the Wood Memorial in April. He added his third career win in 12 career races after a taxing third-place finish in the Travers three weeks ago when he challenged American Pharoah for the first six furlongs of the race. He’ll have some time to freshen up for the Classic which is now five weeks away.
• It looks like Honor Code will prep for the Classic in the one-turn mile Kelso versus the 1 ¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup next weekend for Super Saturday at Belmont Park. Tonalist will look to defend his Gold Cup win and will likely face Effinex, Mylute and Coach Inge, all of whom raced in the Woodward on Labor Day weekend at the Spa.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.