Paradise Woods gets back to work in Santa Monica Stakes

Paradise Woods wins 2017 Zenyatta
Photo: Zoe Metz Photography
Three very talented distaffers, John Sadler’s up and coming Selcourt, Richard Mandella’s multiple Grade I winner Paradise Woods, and Bill Spawr’s California-bred multiple graded stakes winning Skye Diamonds head a field of five older fillies and mares going seven furlongs in Saturday’s Grade II, $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes at Santa Anita.

While favoritism will be hotly contested among the “Big Three,” Sadler’s late developing Selcourt boasts the highest last-out Beyer Speed figure and with two recent stakes wins to her credit, she may rate the nod in a wide-open affair.


Owner:  Medallion Racing, Keith Abrahams and Sandra Lazaruk              Trainer:  John Sadler

Always highly regarded, this 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Tiz Wonderful was a dazzling 7 ½ length winner of the 6 ½ furlongs Kalookan Queen Stakes two starts back on Jan. 14, which was her first start in nine months.  Most recently a three quarter length winner of the Grade III Las Flores Stakes at six furlongs on Feb. 18, she not only bagged her first graded win, but secured a lofty 100 Beyer Speed figure in an effort that suggested an extra furlong would be no problem.  Unraced at two, Selcourt, who was bred in Kentucky by part-owner Abrahams, is now 5-3-1-1 and appears poised to have a career-year at age four.


Owner:  Steven Sarkowsky, Pam and Martin Wygod                              Trainer:  Richard Mandella

Highly accomplished, Mandella appears to have this 4-year-old daughter of Union Rags on edge, as she comes off a close second place effort behind Eclipse Award winning Unique Bella in the Grade I, seven furlong La Brea Stakes here on Dec. 26 and enters the Santa Monica with a strong work tab to her credit.  An 11 ¾ length winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks in just her third start on April 8 of last year, she won the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes by 5 ¼ lengths three starts back on Sept. 30 and was third in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Distaff two races back Nov. 3.  Although she’s made the overwhelming amount of her $713,545 bankroll routing, Mandella has opted to keep her sprinting for perhaps the final time this year on Saturday and on sheer ability, she rates a tremendous chance in what will be her ninth career start.  Bred in Kentucky by part-owner Sarkowsky, Paradise Woods, who broke her maiden going 5 ½ furlongs, is 8-3-2-1 overall.


Owner:  Allen Racing, LLC, Bloom Racing Stables, LLC, Tom Acker & Jon Lindo       
Trainer:  Bill Spawr

Claimed 11 starts back for $40,000 in August, 2016, she’s won six out of her 10 races with her new connections, including the Grade II Great Lady M Stakes at Los Alamitos four starts back on July 8, 2017 and the Grade III Rancho Bernardo Handicap at Del Mar three races back on Aug. 13.  Most recently third, beaten three quarters of a length by Selcourt in the Grade III Las Flores Stakes going six furlongs on Feb. 18, her connections are hopeful she can turn the tables on the top selection with an extra furlong to work with.  A 5-year-old California-bred mare by First Dude, Sky Diamonds earned a 99 Beyer Speed figure in the Las Flores, a race in which she was making gradual late progress.  Fourth, beaten 3 ½ lengths two starts back in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint going seven furlongs on Nov. 4, Skye Diamonds is an impressive 18-9-3-1 overall with earnings of $551,150.


Race 5 of 10                                                                                      Approximate post time 2 p.m. PT

1. Marley’s Freedom—Drayden Van Dyke—120
2. Just a Little Hope—Evin Roman--120
3. Paradise Woods—Flavien Prat—124
4. Skye Diamonds—Tiago Pereira—122
5. Selcourt—Tyler Baze--122



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