ZENYATTA IS ONE OF FIVE GRADE I ‘WIN & YOU’RE IN’ BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE RACES
ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 27, 2017)–Well beaten twice since a dazzling 11 ¾ length winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 8, Richard Mandella’s Paradise Woods seeks redemption as she takes on older fillies and mares for the first time in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita. Soundly beaten at 1-5 in the Grade III Torrey Pines Stakes Aug. 27, 3-year-old Paradise Woods has trained well as her connections consider a run in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 3.
A close third to superstar Stellar Wind two starts back in the Grade I Clement Hirsch Stakes July 30, Bob Baffert’s Faithfully will try to even the score with Shenandoah Queen, who defeated her by three quarters of a length while the 3-5 favorite in the restricted Tranquility Lake Stakes at one mile on Aug. 25.
A winner of last year’s Zenyatta with Stellar Wind, John Sadler, who has opted to train his stable star up to this year’s Distaff, will go with his “Avis” choice, Shenandoah Queen, who pressed the pace and upset Faithfully in the Tranquility Lake at odds of 20-1. Purchased privately following a third place finish in a first condition allowance at Gulfstream Park three starts back on May 19, Shenandoah Queen is on the improve for Sadler as she seeks her second win in a row.
Formerly run as the Lady’s Secret prior to 2012, the Zenyatta has attracted a field of six fillies and mares three and up.
PARADISE WOODS: On the strength of her Santa Anita Oaks win, Paradise Woods was bet to 6-5 favoritism in the Grade I Kentucky Oaks two starts back on May 5, but was distanced by 20 ½ lengths after showing the way into the far turn at Churchill Downs. Idle since her disappointing run on Aug. 27, the 3-year-old filly by Union Rags has three local works to her credit, topped by a bullet six furlong move in 1:11.60 on Saturday–best of 33 at the distance. Bred by the late Herman Sarkowsky and owned by his son, Steven Sarkowsky and Martin Wygod, Paradise Woods can be expected to show her customary early zip as she tries to rekindle memories of her Santa Anita Oaks triumph. Mandella, who won the Zenyatta three straight years from 2013 through 2015 with four-time Eclipse Award winner Beholder, has expressed confidence that Paradise Woods is poised to bounce back with a big effort on Saturday. With two wins and a second from five starts, she has earnings of $293,545.
FAITHFULLY: With her best effort to date a close, 1 ¾ length defeat at the hands of Stellar Wind two starts back in the Grade I Clement Hirsch July 30, this 4-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Smart Strike tries graded competition for the second time in what will be her 11th career start. Proven at the mile and on sixteenth distance, she was an impressive winner of the restricted Santa Lucia Stakes here three starts back on June 4. Owned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. and Bruce Lunsford, Faithfully has amassed earnings of $208,600 from an overall mark of 10-3-5-1.
SHENANDOAH QUEEN: In what will be her third start for Sadler, this 5-year-old Henny Hughes mare could well continue her ascent up the “form” ladder, as she earned a career-best 93 Beyer Speed figure in taking the Tranquility Lake on Aug. 25. Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, Shenandoah Queen is 11-5-1-2 with earnings of $111,300.
THE GRADE I ZENYATTA STAKES IN POST POSITION ORDER WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS
Race 5 of 11 Approximate post time 2:30 p.m. PT
- Faithfully–Rafael Bejarano–122
- Midnight Toast–Santiago Gonzalez–122
- Motown Lady–Kent Desormeaux–122
- Paradise Woods–Flavien Prat–122
- Rockport Babe–Corey Nakatani–122
- Shenandoah Queen–Victor Espinoza–122
First post time for an 11-race card on Saturday is at 12:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 10:30 a.m. For additional racing information, please visit santaanita.com