Yes, Perl is psychic... but not in this case. If you look at perlvar you will see:
$& The string matched by the last successful pattern
match (not counting any matches hidden within a
BLOCK or eval() enclosed by the current BLOCK).
(Mnemonic: like & in some editors.) This variable
is read-only and dynamically scoped to the current
So, since .* matched 'foo', $& is set when you use it. If you make your pattern /\d.*/ you will find you will get no output in your same test case.
# cat t.pl
'foo' =~ m/\d.*/;
print eval <STDIN>;
# perl t.pl
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