This Saturday we will turn our attention westward to Arcadia, California for the G1 Beholder Mile. The featured 9th race on Santa Anita’s card will be a 1 mile dirt affair for 3yr old and up fillies and mares. Headlining the field will be the trio of multiple graded stakes winners Unique Bella, Paradise Woods, and Vale Dori. Vale Dori finished second by a neck in the 2017 Beholder Mile to Stellar Wind.
One mile dirt routes have been running friendly to the font end at Santa Anita with 23% winners going wire to wire, including 3 of the last 5 that I could find. You don’t want to be too far back at any point when going around 2 turns on their dirt track.
This bias will be tested this week as we should have a contentious pace scenario. Paradise Woods, with Flavien Prat aboard, loves to be on the engine, but so do rivals Vale Dori and Unique Bella. We also have a longshot shipper on the rail, Munny Spunt, who will be stretching out from sprints and should be up close as well. Munny Spunt has a graded stake win at Del Mar, albeit via disqualification, in her only lifetime attempt going a mile.
Only Mopotism and La Force look to come from off the pace, and each of them has a Santa Anita victory to her credit going today’s distance. Mopotism is a stablemate of Munny Spunt, both being trained by Doug O’Neill.
When checking my trusty Brisnet early speed figures, I will have to give the early pace edge to Unique Bella, but it is a slight edge, and the early lead will require some effort that I believe will be too much for this champion mare. After a disappointing 2nd place finish in the G1 Apple Blossom, Unique Bella posted a less than stellar workout on May 26th, with a 52 and 1 4f time which was 59th of 61 that day. By comparison, on April 8th she posted a 46 and 4 bullet against 64 4f works. Quite a drop off and enough for me to look elsewhere.
Also less than stellar was Vale Dori’s effort on May 6th at Santa Anita where she finished 5th of 6 while fading in the lane. She had no response in spite of stalking a pedestrian pace for her first out of the money finish in 2 years.
And then there is Paradise Woods who absolutely loves the Santa Anita strip, having broken her maiden and captured 2 G1’s on that track. But her most recent looks, even at Santa Anita look vulnerable. She was a well beaten 4th in the G2 Santa Monica, and her most recent 3f work was not sharp.
So where do we go to find a winner? I can make a case against the trio of proven G1 winners. Longshot Munny Spunt’s speed figures are not competitive. Mopotism finished 7th of 7 in her last (on the turf). La Force is 1 for her last 12, mainly against conditional allowance company.
By process of elimination I landed on Paradise Woods. While she has lost 3 straight, she has consistently posted the best late speed figures in spite of being close to quick pace setups. Throw in her affinity for Santa Anita and I will take Paradise Woods for the win.