Breeders’ Cup Photo ©
When the two-time Eclipse champion Beholder crossed the wire in the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic (gr. I) last Saturday–defeating a talented field of older male horses by an amazing 8 1/4 lengths–it was clear that the five-year-old mare had turned in an epic performance. But lost in the excitement was the possibility that Beholder’s performance might have been more than just epic–it might have been record-breaking.
When Beholder reached the finish line of the ten-furlong race and stopped the clock in the swift time of 1:59.77 seconds, her time was hailed as an exceptional, albeit not earth-shattering clocking. Plenty of horses have eclipsed the two-minute mark for ten furlongs; the world record for the distance on dirt is actually 1:57 4/5, set by Hall of Fame member Spectacular Bid in 1980. But such clockings are much, much rarer coming from fillies and mares, and it’s possible that Beholder’s time is the fastest ten-furlong clocking on dirt by any filly or mare in the history of U.S. racing.
Inspired by the possibility of uncovering an unknown record, I delved through an edition of the American Racing Manual and asked on Twitter if anyone knew of other fillies or mares that had cracked the two-minute mark for ten furlongs. Gary Dougherty, who runs the exceptional Twitter account “Racing Stats & Info,” kindly joined me in researching the topic, and between us, we discovered just two other sub-2:00 clockings by fillies and mares: Princessnesian, who ran 1:59.80 while winning the 1968 Hollywood Gold Cup, and Coup de Fusil, who recorded the same time while winning the 1987 Delaware Handicap.
In other words, as far as we have been able to find, Beholder’s time of 1:59.77 is the American record for a filly or mare running ten furlongs on dirt. It’s not just a great time–it may be a historically great time!
But of course, horse racing has a very long history, and researching such statistics can be tricky. If you know of any fillies or mares that have run a faster time on dirt, please let us know! Otherwise, let’s celebrate Beholder’s incredible accomplishment of breaking an American record that has stood for nearly 50 years!