Stevens said the "aha" didn't come until he got to the middle of the turn and felt lots of horse under him.
Stevens also said he and Smith had had a quick moment outside the jockey's room just before they climbed aboard for the Distaff.
"We just said good luck and be safe," Stevens said.
Nothing more was said, even during the race, which often includes lots of jockey jawing.
"Just nostrils and hoofbeats," Stevens said.
B. Wayne Hughes, Beholder's owner, multimillionaire owner of, among other things, storage units, and a big USC booster, summed up his feelings by quoting former Trojans coach Pete Carroll.
"He always said," Hughes said, "you can't be a champion unless you beat champions."
Beholder did exactly that and became the first to complete the Breeders' Cup double of the Juvenile Fillies (last year) and the Distaff.
Mandella, good with the quip but often reserved, was in rare form.
At one point, he praised Beholder for "overcoming my training mistakes." At another point, when asked whether Beholder might be aimed at the $5-million Classic against the boys next year, because there is $3 million more at stake in that race, he said, grinning, "We're not in this for the money."
That might have been a more accurate answer from Hughes, who said that he thought the race was for $1 million, not $2 million.
Saturday, with nine Breeders' Cup races, the money really gets big and so does everything else. Friday's crowd was 35,833, about 1,200 more than last year. Saturday could attract as many as 50,000. Friday's purses totaled $5.5 million. Saturday's will be $19.5 million.
Smith has eight rides left, Stevens six. The story is likely to change. There is a limit to just how much Advil and ointment can do. Still, it will be hard for gamblers to look elsewhere, even if Smith and Stevens are spotted early Saturday morning, making their way to the jockeys room behind walkers.
Trainer Bob Baffert calls them the Geritol Jocks. The Sunshine Boys image works too.
But the people who placed a dollar or two on them Friday might keep the description simpler.