Richard Mandella doesn't often run females against the boys, which should have been warning enough to the nine hapless males entered in the Classic. Not that these were bad horses; while the West Coast handicap division has been weakened by the defections of Shared Belief and California Chrome, the field still included Grade I winners Bayern, Hoppertunity and Hard Aces as well as Grade I-placed Grade II winners Catch a Flight, Imperative and Midnight Storm. Nonetheless, Beholder made them look as though they had anchors tied to their tails when she took off on her own initiative with three-eighths of a mile to go. All Gary Stevens had to do was keep her mind on business as she loped home.
To be sure, Beholder couldn't have had a sweeter trip. Bayern had no chance to play his favorite catch-me-if-you-can game as he was hooked early by Midnight Storm, and the mare was unhurried and unmolested all the way around until she swung out and casually inhaled the tiring leaders. After that, it was simply a matter of how big the margin was going to be. Her final time of 1:59.77 was racehorse time, and she did it for fun.
Beholder still has questions to answer; after all, she hasn't met Honor Code or Tonalist (arguably the best of the East Coast males); this was only her third start of 2015; and she has yet to win a stakes outside California. But American Pharoah has questions to answer as well, having yet to face his elders, and it may be a lady from the Golden State who is on course to hand him his stiffest exam.