One-two finishers when last they met, Bob Baffert's Marley's Freedom and John Sadler's Selcourt will each stretch out an eighth of a mile as they head Saturday's Grade I, $400,000 Beholder Mile at Santa Anita Park, which has attracted an outstanding field of seven older fillies and mares.
Dispatched as the 3-5 favorite in the Grade II, seven furlong Santa Monica Stakes here Feb. 16, Marley's Freedom overhauled Selcourt late to win by 1 ¼ lengths over a stubborn Selcourt, who was off at 5-1.
||Drayden Van Dyke
||Just a Smidge
Ridden with confidence by Drayden Van Dyke, Marley's Freedom was an impressive winner of the Santa Monica, which followed what was no doubt one of her best career efforts, a one turn mile win by a neck in the Grade III Go For Wand at Aqueduct on Dec. 1.
A resounding winner of the Grade I, seven furlong Ballerina Stakes four starts back on Aug. 25 at Saratoga, this 5-year-old Blame mare appears strictly the horse to beat in the Beholder on Saturday. A winner of six out of her last seven starts, five of them graded stakes, Marley's Freedom is 15-8-2-0 overall with earnings of $935,935.
Owner: Cicero Farms, LLC | Trainer: Bob Baffert
Lightly raced and blessed with immense talent sprinting, this 5-year-old Tiz Wonderful mare will try two turns for the first time in what will be her 10th career start. Breaking from the number two post position in a field of five in the seven furlong Santa Monica, Selcourt made all the early running, leading through splits of 22.40, 45 flat and 1:09.60 over a track listed as "good."
Although she was collared late by Marley's Freedom, Selcourt battled gamely to the wire, holding Mopotism at bay by a half length for the place. Ridden by Joe Talamo last time out, she'll be reunited with Tyler Baze, who had ridden her to four victories in her eight previous starts.
Owner: Medallion Racing & Keith Abrahams | Trainer: John Sadler
Exuberance, who finished fourth in two prior Grade I races, seeks her first stakes win in Saturday's Grade I Beholder Mile, in which she landed post four in a field of seven fillies and mares age three and older.
"We've got a great draw and I believe she's doing as well as she was before her last race, but you don't know until they go," said Ian Kruljac, who trains the hard-hitting daughter of Archarcharch for Seltzer Thoroughbreds. "She's doing great."
With several of Santa Anita's top jockeys fulfilling out of town obligations, and with her previous rider, Tyler Baze, opting for Selcourt in the Beholder, Kruljac has engaged Hall of Fame member and Triple Crown winner Victor Espinoza to pilot Exuberance, who won her last start by a widening six lengths despite bobbling at the start from the number one post position.
Owner: Seltzer Thoroughbreds | Trainer: Ian Kruljac