Beholder edges Songbird in Distaff

Beholder got the better of the previously unbeaten Songbird in a thrilling climax to the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff at Santa Anita.

Jockey Gary Stevens riding Beholder celebrates after winning the Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff

The Richard Mandella-trained Beholder landed the Grade One prize back in 2013 and returned with strong claims of regaining her crown, despite having been beaten twice by the reopposing Stellar Wind since the summer.

Songbird, winner of each of her 11 previous starts, was sent straight to the lead by Mike Smith, with Gary Stevens happy to sit third aboard Beholder.

The pair settled down to fight it out from the top of the straight and while Songbird gave everything, Beholder had her head down at the right time and gained the narrowest of verdicts.

Stellar Wind blew the start and was always on the back foot as a result, eventually coming home in fourth place.

It was a third Breeders' Cup win overall for Beholder, having also landed the Juvenile Fillies in 2012, and she is now set to be retired to the paddocks.

Stevens said: "It was a heck of a horse race.

"I take my hat off to Songbird as a three-year-old, but I can't say enough about this mare.

"She's six years old and the job Richard has done is unbelievable.

"She's such a smart mare and she gave me that loving feeling.

"She reads pace as well as any horse I've ever ridden.

"It was a hell of a way for her to go out."

Mandella said: "It means everything. I've put my life into this.

"She's just a great horse in so many ways – ability, mind, soundness.

"She's a great mare."

Smith was delighted with the performance of Songbird in defeat.

"I'm so proud of my filly as she came across the real Beholder today. Even though we lost, it feels like we won as she ran so well and gave me everything," said the jockey.

"I hoped that coming round the turn I would get away from Beholder, but she just stuck at it and we've gone down by a short nose.

"Hopefully Songbird will be around next year. She'll be bigger and stronger and I hope there'll be a lot more to come."

Read More at Sporting Life

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