Beholder proves much the best in her 2014 debut

Beholder, with jockey Gary Stevens up, wins the Santa Lucia Stakes at Santa Anita.



Two-time Eclipse champion Beholder won the $75,000 Santa Lucia Stakes by 5-1/4 lengths in her 4-year-old debut at Santa Anita on Sunday, closing day of the track’s winter meet.

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Beholder ran 1-1/16 miles in 1:42.67 and paid $2.20 to win as the heavy favorite in the field of five older fillies and mares.

"I know everyone said this was a paid workout but I’m relieved," Stevens said. "It’s nice to get that first one of the year out of the way. Now we can move forward. She’s spectacular."

Legacy finsihed second, and Irish Presence was another 4-3/4 lengths back in third.

The victory, worth $48,300, increased Beholder’s career earnings to $3,123,300, with nine wins in 13 starts.

Beholder had been idle since winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November, with trainer Richard Mandella wanting to freshen up her.

"What a great mare," he said. "I think there’s still quite a bit of room to grow."

John Sadler won the ninth and last race Sunday to tie Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer for the training title with 34 victories.

Rafael Bejarano won the riding title with 93 victories over Joe Talamo, who finished second with 54. Stevens won 10 stakes races during the meet, one more than Bejarano.

Santa Anita will open its first spring meet on Friday, a result of the track picking up additional racing dates since the closure of Betfair Hollywood Park last December.

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