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Confidence leads Paradise Woods back to winner’s circle

By in Press Enterprise on October 6, 2017

By Staff report

By Art Wilson
@sham73 on Twitter

Last spring, a 3-year-old filly named Paradise Woods wowed us all by annihilating her six rivals in the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks by 11 3/4 lengths. The runner-up horse that day? Abel Tasman, who went on to win the Kentucky Oaks, Acorn Stakes and Coaching Club American Oaks while earning recognition as top sophomore filly in the country.

Paradise Woods? Well, she flopped as the 6-5 favorite in the Kentucky Oaks after setting a rapid pace over a sloppy track and was given a four-month break by Richard Mandella, her Hall of Fame trainer who knows a thing or two about great distaffers. Remember, he won last year’s Breeders’ Cup Distaff with Beholder when many were claiming the 6-year-old mare was past her prime.

Paradise Woods returned in the Grade III Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 27, finishing sixth as the 1-5 favorite after stumbling at the start. It was not the comeback her connections were hoping for, but none of her handlers lost confidence in the daughter of Union Rags. Visions of the filly who shined so brightly on that April 8 afternoon at Santa Anita still danced in their heads.

That confidence was rewarded last Saturday when Paradise Woods broke alertly, sped to the front in the 1 1/16-mile race while setting swift fractions of 23.13, 46.89 and 1:11.50 over a track that played extremely slow that day, and cruised to a 5 1/4-length victory in the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes on Breeders’ Cup Challenge day at Santa Anita.

Yeah, she beat only three horses, but one of them was the Bob Baffert-trained Faithfully, a quality filly who lost by only 1 3/4 lengths while finishing third behind Stellar Wind and Vale Dori in the Grade I Clement L. Hirsch Stakes at Del Mar […]    

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