Gary Stevens: Beholder is “The Best… I Ever Have Ridden”

Gary Stevens: Beholder is “The Best… I Ever Have Ridden”

Benoit Photo

Spendthrift Farm's Beholder and jockey Gary Stevens win the Grade I, $400,000 Vanity Mile, Saturday, June 4, 2016 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA. © BENOIT PHOTO
Beholder and jockey Gary Stevens win the Vanity Mile (gr. I) at Santa Anita – © Benoit Photo

After five years of competition, there are few accolades left to bestow on Beholder, a three-time champion mare and two-time Breeders’ Cup winner that has won grade I races at age 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. So impressive are her accomplishments that induction into horse racing’s Hall of Fame will be a mere formality once the appropriate amount of time has passed after her retirement.

But following Beholder’s stunningly easy victory in the $400,000 Vanity Mile (gr. I) on June 4th at Santa Anita, she received perhaps the greatest compliment of all from her jockey, Gary Stevens. The Hall of Fame rider has ridden some of the best horses to ever grace the sport, including Winning Colors, Silver Charm, Point Given, Thunder Gulch, Serena’s Song, Silverbulletday, and Gentlemen, and he’s won nine Triple Crown races and ten Breeders’ Cup races. But according to Stevens, none of these horses can compare to Beholder.

“She’s like family to me,” Stevens said in the official post-race quotes compiled by Santa Anita. “I don’t spend as much time with her as [trainer] Richard [Mandella] does and everyone at the barn but she’s very special to me.

“She’s the best thing I ever have ridden, or I ever will ride. I’m blessed to be on her back.”

Owner B. Wayne Hughes shared similar sentiments after the race. “I’ve had a lot of great horses, but not like this. I don’t think this will ever happen to me again. I just heard Gary say she’s the best horse he’s ever ridden and she might well be. She’s definitely the best horse I’ve ever owned; maybe the best horse anyone has ever owned.”

Fortunately for racing fans and the entire sport, there’s a chance that Beholder could race not only through the end of this year, but in 2017 as well. “I’ll consider bringing her back at [age] seven only if she’s perfect,” said Hughes. “She’s better this year than she was last year. She’s bigger, stronger and faster. They put the girth on her and she’s bigger and she loves it so who am I to interfere with her having a good time.”

The Pacific Classic (gr. I) on August 20th at Del Mar, a race that Beholder won in spectacular fashion last year, is on the agenda for this summer. In that race, Beholder could face 2014 Horse of the Year and Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome in what would be one of the most anticipated races of the year.

To view a gallery of photos from Beholder’s win in the Vanity Mile, please click here.

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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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