A multiple Grade I winner at three, but winless since September 2017, Paradise Woods, who will be making her third start for trainer John Shirreffs, heads a field of eight older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles in Saturday's Grade II, $200,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita.
Bred in Kentucky by the late Herman Sarkowsky, Paradise Woods, who is a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Union Rags, won the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks by 11 3/4 lengths on April 8, 2017, and was subsequently made the 6-5 favorite in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks, a race in which she lead early and tired badly to finish 11th.
Originally trained by Richard Mandella, Paradise Woods will be making her 14th career start and will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith on Saturday.
Bob Baffert will be represented by a pair of distaffs in the Santa Margarita, stakes placed Just a Smidge and lightly raced Witholding Info, who comes off a sharp allowance score at a flat mile.
Owner: Pam and Martin Wygod & Steven Sarkowsky
Trainer: John Shirreffs
The leading money earner in the field with $825,890, but winless in seven starts since taking the Grade I Zenyatta Stakes here in September, 2017, she comes off a much improved third place finish in the Grade I Beholder Mile and with Smith taking over, looms the horse to beat on Saturday. Out of the Forest Wildcat mare Wild Forest, Paradise Woods, who was a disappointing fifth two starts back in the Grade II, seven furlong Santa Monica Stakes Feb. 16, will likely lay close to the early pace as she tries to improve upon an overall mark of 13-3-2-3.
JUST A SMIDGE
Owner: Debbie Lanni
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Off at 38-1, she was seventh, beaten 18 ½ lengths in the Beholder Mile. A sharp gate to wire allowance winner going one mile two starts back, she'll be handled for the first time by come backing Martin Garcia, who is expected to put early run on her mind. A diminutive 4-year-old filly by Into Mischief, Just a Smidge has three wins from 11 starts and has been unplaced in four other graded stakes assignments.
Owner: Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Bred in Kentucky by her owners, this 4-year-old Midnight Lute filly, out of the First Samurai mare Executiveprivilege, has won two out of her three starts with Joe Talamo, and she earned a career-top Beyer Speed figure of 83 in taking a one mile allowance here on April 7. Should Paradise Woods falter, Witholding Info is an interesting up and comer from a barn that's full of them.
GRADE II SANTA MARGARITA STAKES
WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 8 of 9 Approximate post time 4:30 p.m. PT
- Starr of Quality—Tiago Pereira—120
- Exuberance—Norberto Arroyo, Jr.—120
- La Force—Drayden Van Dyke—120
- Birdie Gold—Victor Espinoza—120
- Witholding Info—Joe Talamo—120
- Lemoona—Aaron Gryder—120
- Just a Smidge—Martin Garcia—120
- Paradise Woods—Mike Smith—120
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 1 p.m. For additional information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.
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