MANDELLA’S PARADISE WOODS & HOLLENDORFER’S UNIQUE BELLA HEAD TUESDAY’S GRADE I, $300,000 LA BREA STAKES; OUTSTANDING FIELD OF 10 SOPHOMORE FILLIES TO GO SEVEN FURLONGS

TRADITIONAL OPENING DAY FIXTURE FOR 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES ONE OF FOUR GRADED STAKES OFFERED; SPECIAL EARLY FIRST POST TIME OF 12 NOON SET FOR NINE-RACE PROGRAM

ARCADIA, Calif. (Dec. 21, 2017)–Regarded as nothing short of a sensation this past spring, trainer Richard Mandella’s Paradise Woods, along with trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s brilliant Unique Bella, headline an exceptional field of 10 sophomore fillies going seven furlongs in Santa Anita’s opening day Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes this Tuesday.

In addition to the top two, Bob Baffert’s Faypien, who was second going the same distance two starts back in Saratoga’s Grade I Test Stakes and Jeff Bonde’s talented California-bred Miss Sunset, a recent Grade II winner going seven furlongs at Keeneland, also merit strong consideration in the 45th running of the prestigious La Brea.

The primary La Brea contenders are as follows:

Paradise Woods
Owner: Steven Sarkowsky, Pam and Martin Wygod Trainer: Richard Mandella
A devastating 11 ¾ length winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks in her third start on March 10, she went to the sidelines for nearly four months following a dismal effort as the 6-5 favorite in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks May 5. Although well beaten in her comeback race, the Grade III, one mile Torrey Pines Stakes at Del Mar Aug. 27, she rebounded with a scintillating gate to wire victory going a mile and one sixteenth in the Grade I Zenyatta here on Sept. 30. A solid third, beaten 3 ½ lengths in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Distaff at a mile and one eighth on Nov. 3, she cuts back in distance a quarter mile and appears to be the horse to beat on Tuesday.

Unique Bella
Owner: Don Alberto Stable Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Although second as the 1-5 favorite in her five furlong debut here June 23, this gray daughter of Tapit then rattled off five consecutive wins by a combined 32 ¼ lengths–the most recent being a 3 ½ length score two starts back in the Grade III LA Woman Stakes going 6 ½ furlongs here on Oct. 8. A disappointing seventh as the even money favorite in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint going seven furlongs on Nov. 4, she can be expected to show plenty of early zip as she’ll be out to make amends in the La Brea. The leading money earner in the field, Paradise Woods has earnings of $653,545.

Faypien
Owner: Baoma Corporation Trainer: Bob Baffert
Well suited at the distance, this Florida-bred daughter of Ghostzapper broke her maiden going seven furlongs here in her second start on April 23 and then took a minor stakes at the same distance on May 14. Second, beaten four lengths as the 2-1 favorite by the highly regarded American Gal in the Test Stakes Aug. 5, she was a disappointing second as the 3-5 favorite in the six furlong Beverly J. Lewis Stakes on Sept. 9 at Los Alamitos. Fresh and dangerous, Faypien figures to get a stalking trip in the La Brea.

Miss Sunset
Owner: Alan Klein and Phillip Lebherz Trainer: Jeff Bonde
Although a five-time stakes winner, she notched her first graded victory in the Grade II Raven Run going seven furlongs at Keeneland on Oct. 21, and thus would appear to rate a big chance in the La Brea. A California-bred filly by Into Mischief, she was bred in part by co-owner Alan Klein. A winner of the seven furlong Fleet Treat Stakes three starts back on July 30, she’s perfect in both of her starts at seven furlongs. With seven wins from 11 starts, she’s amassed earnings of $600,390–which is second only to Paradise Woods.

Marley’s Freedom
Owner: Cicero Farms, LLC Trainer: Bob Hess, Jr.
Although Mike Smith has opted to stay with Unique Bella, this Kentucky-bred filly by Blame could be poised for an upset under four-time Eclipse Champion Javier Castellano. Although the La Brea will be her first stakes engagement, Marley’s Freedom exits the best race of her five-race career, a 4 ¼ length romp under Smith as the 8-5 favorite in a first condition allowance going 6 ½ furlongs at Del Mar on Nov. 29.

THE GRADE I LA BREA STAKES WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 7 of 9 Approximate post time 3 p.m. PT

1. Miss Sunset–Julien Leparoux–122
2. Marley’s Freedom–Javier Castellano–120
3. Unique Bella–Mike Smith–122
4. Mopotism–Mario Gutierrez–120
5. Faypien–Drayden Van Dyke–122
6. Just a Little Hope–Gary Stevens–120
7. Paradise Woods–Flavien Prat–124
8. Princess Karen–Kent Desormeaux–120
Special early first post time on Tuesday is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. For more information, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-RACE.