In a sport like horse racing, there are so many races across the country that the best horses can avoid facing each other until the end of the year. That’s why it’s refreshing when champions cross paths during the height of summer and give racing fans an unforgettable thrill.
On August 20th, what could very well be the best race of 2016 will be held at Del Mar racetrack in California. That race is the Pacific Classic, held at the same mile and a quarter distance of the Kentucky Derby, and among the nine entries are fan favorite California Chrome and the three-time champion mare Beholder, two established superstars that are undoubtedly bound for the Hall of Fame.
California Chrome has been a favorite of horse fans everywhere since 2014, when he rose from humble beginnings to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Now five years old, the California-bred sensation has risen to even greater heights this year, winning the $10 million Dubai World Cup—the richest race in the world—in decisive fashion to become the highest-earning U.S. racehorse in history. Given a relaxing break after that race, California Chrome returned last month to win the San Diego Handicap in narrow fashion over the very talented Dortmund, an imposing 1,300-pound four-year-old that will challenge California Chrome again in the Pacific Classic.
But for as talented as California Chrome is, he could face a stiff challenge from Beholder, a sensational mare that has been winning championships since 2012. As a five-year-old in 2015, Beholder went unbeaten in five races, including an unforgettable romp in the Pacific Classic that has been hailed as one of the greatest performances by a filly or mare in many years.
It is believed that Beholder is the only mare in history to win top-level “Grade 1” races at age two, three, four, five, and six, making her a legend in her own time. From many perspectives, she is more accomplished than California Chrome, making their showdown in the Pacific Classic one of the most exciting and intriguing races in a long time.
Tap the arrows on the side of the image above to see more photos of Beholder.
Beholder enters the Pacific Classic off a narrow loss in the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar, a race she won easily in 2015, but trainer Richard Mandella has been pleased with her training since then, which culminated with an easy half-mile workout on August 16th. “We didn’t want to do anything special with her this morning,” Mandella said in a Del Mar press release. “We just wanted to stretch her legs a little bit. She’s done well with easy works in front of her races in the past.”
No matter what happens, the Pacific Classic promises to be a fantastic race! Horse fans interested in seeing California Chrome and Beholder in action can do so by creating a free account at Calracing.com, which provides livestreams of horse races in California. Be sure to tune in and cheer for your favorite!
J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and racing enthusiast who considers Zenyatta to be his all-time favorite racehorse. He is the founder of the horse racing website TheTurfBoard.com and writes for the Bloodhorse.com blog Unlocking Winners.