Photo: Zoe Metz
Multiple Grade 1 winner Paradise Woods is scheduled to make her first start under the direction of trainer John Shirreffs in this Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Santa Monica Stakes for older fillies and mares at seven furlongs.
It would mark the first race in seven months for the 5-year-old daughter of Union Rags formerly trained by Richard Mandella.
“She’s been breezing very nicely,” Shirreffs said, alluding to two of her most recent drills being the fastest of the day at the distance of six furlongs, a 1:11.60 move from the gate on Jan. 26 followed by a 1:10.80 recorded on Friday.
“I’m just hoping for good weather,” added Shirreffs, who has had Paradise Woods in his care since December. Joel Rosario, who has expressed keen satisfaction working her, rides her for the first time competitively.
Flavien Prat, who had ridden Paradise Woods in all of her previous 11 races, will be at Laurel Park Saturday to ride Spiced Perfection for Peter Miller in the Barbara Fritchie Stakes.
“Getting a horse like Paradise Woods certainly picks your head up a little bit,” Shirreffs said, laughing. “It puts a little bounce in your step. At the barn she’s very well behaved, but like a lot of good race horses, when they see the track, they take it up a notch.”
As the trainer of super mare Zenyatta, John Shirreffs would know.
Working on a fast main track Sunday for possible Santa Monica starts were a trio of Bob Baffert runners — Dream Tree, Emboldened and Marley’s Freedom. The latter two went five furlongs in company and were clocked in identical bullet times of 58.80. Dream Tree, working solo, also received a bullet for a six furlong move in 1:11.60.
FIRSTS ALL AROUND AT SANTA ANITA SATURDAY
Multi-cultural firsts were the order of the day Saturday at Santa Anita. Posting their first victories at The Great Race Place were jockeys Andrea Atzeni, Jean Diaz Jr. and Shane Foley.
The 27-year-old Atzeni, a native of the Mediterranean island Sardinia, won the Thunder Road Stakes (G3) for trainer Simon Callaghan on True Valour at a $25 win payoff; 18-year-old apprentice Diaz from Puerto Rico took the sixth race aboard Hero For Hire ($26) trained by Jeff Bonde; and the 30-year-old Foley, a native of Ireland, posted a $34.40 upset with John Sadler trainee Platinum Warrior in the San Marcos Stakes (G3).
“It felt so good to win here, especially this soon,” said Diaz, whose father, 41-year-old Puerto Rican riding great Juan, and mother, Amarilis, were on hand to see Jean record his landmark triumph on only his third mount here.
“They both took the redeye back to Puerto Rico last night,” said Jean (pronounced John). “My father rides in six races at Hipodromo Camarero Race Track there today.”
Saturday was a first for Callaghan as well. In addition to True Valour, the native of England who turns 39 on March 7, also saddled odds-on favorite Bellafina to win the Las Virgenes Stakes (G2). “That’s the first time I won two stakes on the same day,” Callaghan said.
SANTA ANITA’S 20 CENT SINGLE TICKET JACKPOT REMAINS UNSOLVED
With just one exception, double digit payoffs were the order of the day Saturday in Santa Anita’s popular 20 cent Single Ticket Pick Six Jackpot, with the result being there were two consolation tickets with six winners, each worth $56,382.
As has been the case now for three consecutive days, there were three “live” horses in the 11th and final race, but all three, #8 Lucky Lately (8-1), #1 Lucky Stepper (33-1) and #4 Tip Top Gal (64-1) fell far short, finishing fourth, ninth and 12th, respectively.
With $211,098 in “new” money wagered, Saturday’s total Jackpot pool was $275,617, which has helped to create a Rainbow Pick Six carryover into Sunday of $112,846.50.
Approximate post time for race four, the beginning of the Rainbow Six, is 2:02 p.m. PT.
FINISH LINES: Mario Gutierrez has been the go-to rider for owner J. Paul Reddam ever since he won the 2012 Kentucky Derby on Reddam’s I’ll Have Another trained by Doug O’Neill, so when the jockey recently changed agents from Tom Knust to Matt Nakatani, Reddam’s blessing understandably was in order. “The first person Mario contacted was Paul,” Nakatani said. “Paul is Mario’s number one man and been a loyal supporter of Mario for quite some time now. Without Paul’s backing Mario wouldn’t be where he is today. The change was kind of slow developing but Paul supported Mario. Mario wants to be a top flight rider here and has certain goals he wants to achieve. Sometimes a change is good and we’ll work very hard to get back into the top 10.” . . . Santa Anita will be dark for live racing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, presenting live racing again Thursday, Feb. 14 at 12:30 p.m. The track will be open for simulcast racing Wednesday with free general admission and parking. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.