Background Check: Beholder Mile

In this continuing series from last year, we examine the past winners of significant filly/mare races by the lasting influence they’ve had on the breed. Up today is Santa Anita’s GI Beholder Mile S., the first Grade I event of the year in the distaff division.

Formerly the Vanity, formerly run at Hollywood Park, and formerly run at distances up to 1 1/4 miles, the Beholder Mile has had one constant: class. Some of the most decorated racemares of our sport have won it since it was inaugurated in 1940, including Hall of Famers Busher, Bewitch, Silver Spoon, Gamely, Azeri, Zenyatta, and, of course, Beholder, the multiple champion who won the 2016 edition and for whom the race is now named.

Following are some of the most important Beholder Mile winners by what impact they’ve had on the sport through their sons and daughters.

Byrama (GB) (2009, Byron {GB}–Aymara {GB}, by Darshaan {GB}), bred by Ermyn Lodge Stud Limited: Five years after winning the last Vanity run at Hollywood Park, this mare produced Known Agenda (Curlin), winner of the 2021 GI Florida Derby. The popular young stallion is currently standing his second season at Spendthrift Farm, where he was among the top 30 stallions in the nation by number of mares bred last year.

Hollywood Story (2001, Wild Rush–Wife for Life, by Dynaformer), bred by Vinery: The best of her four stakes performers to date is 2020 GI Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A. P. (Honor Code). The flashy young Lane’s End stallion will have his first yearlings at the sales this year; he was among the top 10 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearlings himself when he sold in 2018.

Gorgeous (1986, Slew o’ Gold–Kamar, by Key to the Mint), bred by Hermitage Farm, Inc., A. G. Clay, and R. N. Clay: Bred to the finest stallions of her time, Gorgeous “only” produced one stakes winner from her 11 foals, the French listed SW & MGSP Stunning (Nureyev). However, genetic gold has since been bubbling to the surface through her descendants, which include English champion and G1SW Music Show (Ire) (Noverre); Venezuelan champion La Alpujarra (Ven) (Pioneerof the Nile); four-time GISW Turbulent Descent (Congrats); GISW Swift Temper (Giant’s Causeway); GSW & MGISP All Included (Include); and several other black-type winners.

Bayakoa (Arg) (1984, Consultant’s Bid–Arlucea {Arg}, by Good Manners), bred by Haras Principal: From just four foals and only two daughters to make it to the breeding shed, Bayakoa is the granddam of GI Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned (E Dubai), MGISW Affluent (Affirmed), and GSW Walkabout (Stroll), as well as the ancestor of seven more stakes performers, including 2022 GIII Regret S. winner Walkathon (Twirling Candy) and last month’s GIII Palos Verdes S. runner-up Radical Right (First Samurai).

Track Robbery (1976, No Robbery–Left At Home, by Run For Nurse), bred by Edgar Kitchen: Her MGSW & MGISP Train Robbery (Alydar) produced GI Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Cat Thief (Storm Cat) while another Alydar daughter produced GISW Pohave (Holy Bull) and is the granddam of GSW and $2.2-million Summer Wind broodmare purchase Tapicat (Tapit). Cat Thief is turning into a first-rate broodmare sire with runners out of his daughters including champion 2-year-old colt and GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile), as well as Chilean champion and U.S. GISW Wow Cat (Chi) (Lookin At Lucky).

It’s in the Air (1976, Mr. Prospector–A Wind Is Rising, by Francis S.), bred by Happy Valley Farm: Best remembered as the first champion sired by Mr. Prospector and her sale for $4.6 million to Darley at Keeneland November in the 80s, she produced four stakes performers but it’s her descendants a generation or more removed that have proved more valuable. Those tracing to her include 2021 G1 Dubai World Cup winner and new 2023 Darley stallion Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper) and his five-time GISW dam Music Note (A.P. Indy); U.S. GISW and English/French/Australian G1SW State of Rest (Ire) (Starspangledbanner {Aus}); English G1SW and U.S. MGISW Storming Home (GB) (Machiavellian); French G1SW and U.S. GISW Musical Chimes (In Excess {Ire}); and Australian G1SWs Glencadam Gold (Ire) (Refuse To Bend {Ire}) and Alverta (Aus) (Flying Spur {Aus}).

Tallahto (1970, Nantallah–Legato, by Dark Star), bred by Howard B. Keck: She produced two GISWs in son Prince True (Majestic Light) and daughter Hidden Light (Majestic Light) and her descendants include group winners in Japan, Australia, and South Africa, but her best thus far is undoubtedly grandson and GI Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller (El Prado {Ire}). He has sired GI/G1 winners in both the U.S. and Australia.

Countess Fleet (1951, Count Fleet–Honor Bound, by Bull Dog {Fr}), bred by Robert Lehman: Although she’s got a number of stakes performers on multiple continents tracing to her, it’ll likely be champion and Breeders’ Cup winner Storm Song (Summer Squall) that is her legacy. One of Storm Song’s daughters produced four black-type winners, including multiple European champion and MG1SW Order of St George (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}).

Two Lea (1946, Bull Lea–Two Bob, by The Porter), bred by Calumet Farm: The best of her three black-type winning sons on the racetrack was champion and dual Classic winner Tim Tam (Tom Fool), but her best in the breeding shed was seven-time stakes winner On-and-On (Nasrullah {GB}). As a sire, On-and-On’s sons included 1968 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Forward Pass, while he is also the broodmare sire of breed-shaping stallion Alydar (Raise a Native).

Be Faithful (1942, Bimelech–Bloodroot, by Blue Larkspur), bred by Idle Hour Stock Farm Co: The number of high-class stakes winners tracing to this mare is significant with the very finest going through her Kentucky Oaks- and Beldame-winning daughter Lalun (Djeddah {Fr}). The impact of Lalun’s champion son Never Bend (Nasrullah {GB}) and Travers-winning son Bold Reason (Hail to Reason) as sires is staggering. The former sired Epsom Derby and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Mill Reef, as well as Broodmare of the Year Courtly Dee, who is considered one of the greatest broodmares of the last century and still churns out top-class winners tracing directly to her with great regularity. Not to be outdone, Bold Reason came up with an extraordinary daughter of his own in Fairy Bridge, dam of MG1SW Sadler’s Wells (Northern Dancer), whose mark on the breed as a sire is unparalleled.

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