By Ron Mitchell
LEXINGTON, KY (October 29, 2015)-Trainer Richard Mandella said two-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder will not run in the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I). When Spendthrift Farm's star was scoped after galloping on the Keeneland training track the morning of Oct. 29, it was discovered the mare had bled.
The 5-year-old daughter of Henny Hughes had developed a fever after her arrival in Kentucky from California.
"And with that we've obviously got some irritated lungs that are vulnerable right now, and we will not take the chance to run her under those circumstances," Mandella said during a mid-morning press conference that included other trainers.
"There's obviously some irritated lung tissue there," he said. "She will be fine, but if I put her under the pressure of a race situation, it could cause some real damage. This was obviously due to the fever she had when she arrived. You could say we just haven't had any luck shipping, but it's been something different every time. She's an aggressive mare and just got herself worked up shipping and made herself sick."
The defection of Spendthrift Farm's Beholder ends a highly anticipated showdown between the mare and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
"It's sad," Mandella said. "It's exciting to take on a challenge like this. It's still a great race. I just wish I was part of it."
After the fever was detected, the connections kept a close eye on Beholder. Spendthrift general manager Ned Toffey said they noticed a small amount of blood after scoping her following her five-furlong breeze in :59 2/5 Oct. 26 at Keeneland.
"After the breeze the other day there was just a touch of blood," Toffey said. "We thought that with that little bit of blood that it was residual from the fever. We were cautiously optimistic."
Toffey said they continued to keep a close eye on Beholder and after she was scoped Thursday, the decision was easy.
"Obviously with that going on you don't want to put her through the stress of a race," Toffey said. "The good news is that we still have a really nice mare and our hope is to try to bring her back to race."
Mandella said plans call for Beholder, who has 15 wins, including two Breeders' Cup victories, from 20 starts and earnings in excess of $4.4 million to run in 2016.
Frank Angst contributed to this story