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Paradise Woods Crushes Santa Margarita

Paradise Woods Crushes Santa Margarita

ARCADIA, CA – Paradise Woods made it look easy when she won by 10 1/2 lengths in Saturday’s Santa Margarita Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park. This was the fourth career victory for the five-year-old daughter of Union Rags and her third career graded stakes score.

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Starr of Quality broke well from the inside post and went to the front while Just a Smidge and Paradise Woods were hurried up on the outside to contest the lead. By the time they hit the first turn, Just a Smidge was the lone horse on the lead, however, Paradise Woods was never far behind as Just a Smidge set fractions of :23.37, 47.35 and :1:11.59.

As they approached the final turn, jockey Mike Smith encouraged the 3-5 favorite Paradise Woods to engage the front-running Just a Smidge and Paradise Woods responded by exploding past the leader. By the top of the stretch, Paradise Woods held an 8-length lead over the rest of the field which continued to grow to 10 1/2 lengths by the time she crossed the finish line. In the battle for second, Just a Smidge began to fade and was easily caught and passed by La Force who finished next best by 5-lengths. Exuberance also ran on well late and finished just ahead of Just a Smidge for third.

“I’d like to take some credit but honestly it was (trainer) John Sherriff and his crew,”  said jockey Mike Smith. “Man they did a lot of work on this mare and they finally got her to a point where she will listen to you a little bit, I left the gate and had a great post, I stayed as still as I could and just kind of let her get that big beautiful stride of hers going, once she did that she had the race under control.

“When we first got her, she was very anxious,” said trainer John Shirreffs. “When she gets mad, she stays mad for a long time, so we spent a long time focused on ways to keep her from getting anxious…She has tremendous ability and we need repeatable performances and we need her to develop a style. As you saw today, she was sitting there relaxed, she was just off that filly (Just a Smidge), but she wasn’t pulling.

This was the first win for Paradise Woods since September of 2017 when she won the Zenyatta Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park. With her win today, Paradise Woods brought her career earnings $945,890 with an overall record of 14: 4-2-3.

“This is very gratifying,” said Shirreffs. “Marty Wygod really wanted to campaign her this year and there was a lot of criticism about not breeding her.”

Paradise Woods returned $3.20 to win, $2.20 to place, and $2.10 to show. La Force brought back $2.80 to place and $2.60 to show, while Exuberance paid $6.40 to show.

Scratched: Withholding Info (Trainer)

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