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Tamara Evokes Memories of Beholder

If only B. Wayne Hughes could be alive to see the splendid filly his fertile imagination yielded.

The owner of Spendthrift Farm died on Aug. 18, 2021 at age 87, but not before he repeatedly emphasized his desire for a certain mating to occur. He wanted his legendary mare Beholder sent to Bolt d’Oro  , who had entered into stud duty at the Lexington breeding operation two years before.

In pursuing that, Hughes was guided by his gut. That was often the case with the billionaire businessman.

“When it comes to the horse business and just about anything else,” said Ned Toffey, Spendthrift’s general manager, “Mr. Hughes liked to say, ‘Nobody knows.’ All of the different technology and experts and so on that you might get to have input, that was really not something he spent a lot of time on.”

Beholder’s initial matings, to proven sires Uncle Mo   and Curlin  , yielded foals of little ability. Her third foal, the 3-year-old filly Teena Ella  (War Front  ), became a grade 3 winner in May. The fourth foal, 2-year-old Tamara  (Bolt d’Oro), is everything Hughes could have envisioned and perhaps so much more.

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The mere name conveys Spendthrift’s lofty hopes for her. The filly is named after Hughes’ daughter, Tammy, who inherited the powerhouse farm and operates it with her husband, Eric. Tamara is evoking memories of her remarkable dam as she takes a perfect 2-for-2 record into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park. She appears to be a clear favorite.

Richard Mandella saddled Beholder when she captured the Juvenile Fillies in 2012 to secure the first of four Eclipse Awards. When the Hall of Fame trainer was asked to compare the daughter with her mother, he replied, “She makes me think of her, and that’s enough.”

Beholder wins the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) Owner B. Wayne Hughes and Trainer Richard Mandella
Photo: Skip Dickstein

Spenthrift Farm owner B. Wayne Hughes and trainer Richard Mandella celebrate a victory from Beholder in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park

Although Tamara has made only two starts, she is already more accomplished than her legendary mother at the same point in her career. Beholder needed two starts to break her maiden in 2012. Tamara handled that at first asking. She overcame a stumble at the start to win by 2 1/4 lengths when racing 6 1/2 furlongs Aug. 19 at Del Mar.

Beholder placed second by a slim nose to Executiveprivilege  in the Del Mar Debutante (G1) at Del Mar. Her daughter, bearing Spendthrift’s familiar orange and purple silks, dusted her Debutante Stakes rivals by 6 3/4 lengths for Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in what easily ranks as one of this season’s spectacular triumphs.

“You never imagine one is going to run as good as she did that day,” said Mandella. “It was just startling.”

The chart reflects that. It reads in part: “…moved to the front while still in hand early on the bend then quickly clicked clear under no encouragement, padded that cushion into the stretch, stretched margin even further in the lane under light hand pressure and was ridden out to the wire in an extremely impressive performance.”

This after bumping with a rival drawn to her outside at the start of what turned into a seven-furlong runaway. This after sitting just behind the hot pace set by Pushiness , who tore through the opening half in a crackling 44.45 seconds before fading soon after Tamara moved up and then drove past. The final time went in 1:22.41.

Tamara had distinguished herself from when she was broken at King’s Equine, operated by Martha and Raul Reyes in Ocala. In breezes that advanced from one to three furlongs, she covered ground swiftly with no need for encouragement.

She thrived when she arrived at Mandella’s barn in early summer.

“She had a nice frame. Made well enough,” he said. “But since she came, she’s really developed and gotten stouter. The more you train her, the bigger she gets, which is a good sign.”

Tamara is easier to get along with than her bossy mother.

Beholder and trainer Richard Mandella at Keeneland Oct. 21.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

Beholder with trainer Richard Mandella in 2015 at Keeneland

“She’s got a little moxie. She likes to play and feel good,” the trainer noted. “But she’s got a sweet side to her, a little more than Beholder. Beholder was sweet around the barn, but when you took her to the paddock and things like that, it was like holding on to a bear.”

The only real issue has been the best way to get her to the 1 1/16-mile Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, where victory would undoubtedly secure the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old female.

Mandella considered the Oct. 7 Chandelier Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita as a prep only to decide against that, given her huge performance in the Debutante.

“I thought I should let her catch her breath before we go to the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “I’d feel pretty stupid if she came up empty in the Breeders’ Cup, so I decided to just train her up to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Whatever the Juvenile Fillies brings, Tamara will surely be compared to her mother race after race. Can she possibly attain the heights of Beholder, a winner of 18 of 26 starts who earned more than $6.1 million and was voted into the Hall of Fame last year?

As Hughes might wisely have said, “Nobody knows.”

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