Henny Hughes filly Beholder returned to championship form with a Group 1 victory in the Las Virgenes Stakes (1600m) at Santa Anita on Saturday.
Beholder (3f Henny Hughes – Leslie’s Lady by Tricky Creek) jumped straight to the lead and sprinted clear in the straight without any encouragement from jockey Garrett Gomez to score by more than three lengths.
The Spendthrift Farm flyer was named Champion USA 2YO Filly at the 2012 Eclipse Awards. She polled an overwhelming 225 votes after a Group 1 triumph in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Returning to action in the G2 Santa Ynez Stakes in January, she was surprisingly beaten by long-shot Renee’s Titan. A post-race exam revealed a reason for the below-par performance – vets found a throat ulcer which was successfully treated in time for Las Virgenes Stakes.
“When you’ve got one this good it’s just a relief to get the job done,” trainer Richard Mandella remarked. “She’s very fast and to take her back and fight her wouldn’t make any sense. She’s a great filly. We will run her next in the G1 Santa Anita Oaks on April 6.”
Beholder has now banked over $1.39 million from a 7: 4-2-0 scorecard.
The Group 1 completed a tremendous winning run for Rangeview Stud sire Henny Hughes who is currently serving a 100 plus Kentucky book at Walmac Farm.
He brought up a stakes winning double in the USA on Saturday after King Henny ran down Triple Crown nominee Titletown Five to claim the LR Gazebo Stakes (1200m) at Oaklawn Park.
Champion trainer Steve Asmussen prepares King Henny for his father Keith. It was his third stakes win after black-type priors in the LR Clever Trevor Stakes and LR Big Drama Stakes.
In Hong Kong, Henny Hughes gelding Great Charm was a very impressive winner last time out at Sha Tin and trainer Richard Gibson is already looking ahead to the G1 Hong Kong Classic Mile.
In Macau, his consistent gelding The Star Of Geely claimed the LR Lisboa Prelude (1100m) for trainer Gary Moore. It improved his record to 4 wins and 4 placings in 8 starts at Taipa.
In South Korea, Henny Hughes filly Indian Blue is just as reliable with 3 wins and 3 placings in 6 starts. Her latest win was a runaway 8 length victory in the LR Se-Gye Ilbo (1400m) worth the equivalent of AUD 177,120.
And in Singapore, Henny Hughes colt Winner’s Smile couldn’t have been more impressive winning on debut over 1200m on Friday night. “He’s always shown us plenty of ability but is still very green and doesn’t know what racing is all about as yet,” trainer Sam Chua said.
“We had hoped to race Winner’s Smile on the turf but had to delay those plans as there is no turf racing until the end of the March,” Chua added. “He didn’t like the kickback from the Polytrack in his trials so we decided to keep him wide.
“He will make a nice turf horse and we are certainly happy to get a win out of him first-up.”
Closer to home, Vision scored a remarkable win on debut at Kembla Grange on Saturday. After blowing a gale in betting ($4.80 out to $14), the filly led them up on a Heavy 10 but was headed clearly on the corner only to come back and win by a nose.
Henny Hughes is comfortably embedded in the Top 10 of the Australian second-season winners’ premiership with 14 winners headed by his promising filly Medusa’s Miss.
After a running double at Warwick Farm in October, trainer Kevin Moses sent her south for a black-type placing at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day. The filly suffered a strained back and was given a break before coming back into work for the autumn carnival.
Moses has nominated Medusa’s Miss to start first-up over 1100m at Canterbury this Friday, March 8.
Henny Hughes served his first Sunspeed book at Rangeview Stud in 2012 at a $7,700 (inc gst) service fee.
– Karl Patterson