The feature race on Championship Friday is the $2 million Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) (run for part of its history as the Ladies Classic), contested at 1 1/8 miles over the main track and usually decides Champion Older Female and Champion 3-Year-Old Filly. Three-year-old Songbird, undefeated in 11 lifetime starts including the Alabama (G1) and Cotillion (G1), was sent off as the 11-10 favorite in the field of 8. In to challenge her included 5-2 second choice Stellar Wind, 2nd in this event last year and winner of the Clement Hirsch (G1) and Zenyatta Stakes (G1), and 3-1 third choice Beholder, winner of the 2012 Juvenile Fillies and 2013 Distaff, but 2nd in 3 straight starts including the Hirsch, Pacific Classic (G1), and Zenyatta.
Down the stretch with Beholder (outside) and Songbird battling on the lead.
Jockey Mike Smith sent Songbird to the lead immediately and she set fractions of 23.32, 47.16, and 1:11.14 while pressed by 17-1 I'm a Chatterbox and stalked by Beholder. Songbird continued to lead to the 1/8 pole when jockey Gary Stevens asked Beholder to put in her bid for the front. The pair hooked up setting up an epic duel to the line, which was decided by a headbob, as Beholder nosed out Songbird in a tight photo finish for the win in 1:49.20. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to 17-1 Forever Unbridled third.
Left: Beholder heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Gary Stevens said, "I've been in battles before, but never the length of the stretch. I mean, it was a full 5/16ths, definitely a quarter of a mile of just a street fight. For six years old, I would just say the way that she's been managed throughout her career allowed her to do what she did on her final day of racing, and she laid it all on the line. The best of the best was training her, and he'd had this mapped out for a long time. The guy (Mandella) doesn't just get lucky. Things happen for a reason in that barn."
Right: Trainer Richard Mandella, jockey Gary Stevens, and owner B. Wayne Hughes celebrate with the trophy. Owner B. Wayne Hughes confirmed Beholder's retirement, joking, "I think it's time for her to go the normal route of going back to Kentucky and not having to have Richard and Gary to deal with. I don't have as much experience as Richard, but I can say that she's by far the best horse I've ever had or ever expect to have."
Left: Beholder in the post parade. Mandella said, "I thought the game needed some suspense, so I got her beat a couple times, figuring it would make it look like I did something really special at the end. You know, it's all in the planning. Anybody that saw her train would have had the same confidence. People would come out of the stands and tell me what they saw on the TV. So it wasn't hard to see. She was really at her best.|
Right: Beholder heads back to the barn with her new winner's blanket. Stevens added, "I think she had cemented her place in history prior to 2016, and she just added another star to it today. I've just never seen a racehorse stay at this peak form, especially a filly, and one that can be temperamental a little bit. But she thrives on racing. She thrives in her environment. For her to hold her form since her two-year-old season, and nowadays that's throwback."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Songbird returns after the race. Jockey Mike Smith said, "She ran incredible and I'm so proud of her. The real Beholder showed up today. That was probably the best race she has run in her life. My filly made her reach down as deep as she has. In losing, I feel like we won. We got beat a short nose. It's easy when you are winning and you have to take it when you lose. Beholder is retiring but my filly will get bigger and stronger next year as they all do when they get older. She's a true champion."
Right: Third place finisher Forever Unbridled first time by the stands. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "I had a good trip. She relaxed nicely. The two that finished in front of me were too tough, but she really finished nicely; but third best today." Trainer Dallas Stewart added, "What a great race. Very proud of her. She only got beat a length by Songbird and Beholder."
Left: Corona Del Inca pulling up on the final turn, and was eventually vanned back to the barn and later euthanized. Veterinarian Dr. Scott Palmer said, "Sadly the radiographs of Corona Del Inca revealed that she had a much more serious injury than it was apparent on the racetrack. She suffered a lateral condylar fracture of her right foreleg, a sesamoid fracture and a fracture of the first pastern bone. The nature of these injuries was so severe that there was no way she could be kept comfortable nor the prognosis be good for treatment. For those reasons she was euthanized."
Right: The field breaks from the gate for the Distaff. Gary Stevens aboard Beholder (outside post 8) said, "Very relaxed, and her start was probably the sharpest start of her career, believe it or not. She wasn't standing perfectly in there. She was kind of up in the front of the gate, and I like her back a little bit. But when you load last, you take what they give you, and, man, she left there. She charged for about 50 yards, and breaking from the outside looking in."
2016 Breeders' Cup Friday - There were four Breeders' Cup races on Friday at Santa Anita headlined by the Distaff (G1) where Beholder edged out favorite Songbird to win her 3rd Breeders' Cup race. Also on the card, New Money Honey won the Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1), Tamarkuz won the Dirt Mile (G1), and Oscar Performance won the Juvenile Turf (G1). Get the results, charts, and photos for all 8 stakes on the card. More photos: Juvenile Turf -
Juvenile Fillies Turf -
Dirt Mile -
2016 Breeders' Cup Thursday Works - Photos and comments for 39 of the Breeders' Cup horses on Thursday November 3 in the morning at Santa Anita, including Found and the rest of the Aidan O'Brien horses out of quarantine.
2016 Breeders' Cup Wednesday Works - Photos and comments for 33 of the Breeders' Cup horses on Wednesday November 2 in the morning at Santa Anita, including Flintshire and Beholder as well as California Chrome.
2016 Breeders' Cup Tuesday Works - Photos and comments for 66 of the Breeders' Cup horses on Tuesday November 1 in the morning at Santa Anita, including California Chrome.
2016 Breeders' Cup Entries - Final entries were taken and post positions drawn on Monday for the 13 Breeders' Cup Championship races on November 4 and 5 at Santa Anita. Check out the post positions, odds, and horses for all the races.
Review: Crushing the Cup 2016 - by Jim Mazur and Peter Mallett. An invaluable tool for trying to unlock the mysteries of handicapping the Breeders' Cup races at Santa Anita. Updated for 2016, this is their 25th anniversary edition.
The Breeders' Cup Championship Day - The official page for the Breeders' Cup championship races. Just about anything you need to know about it: results, video clips, and race calls for past years, and eventually nominations, entries, and results.
Free Prep Replays - for major prep races in the Breeders' Cup Challenge. The ones with camera logos have video available.
Breeders' Cup Supplemental Entries - The old official policy on supplemental entries plus all the supplemental entries and how they fared, mostly it was a losing proposition. There are no more supplements now, only late nominations making it impossible to track now.