Trainer Richard Mandella is no stranger to grooming legends, and may have his next up and comer in the form of Paradise Woods. The three-year-old filly out of Tapit stole the show in the 2017 Santa Anita Oaks and is pointed directly towards the Kentucky Oaks. With even money favorite Unique Bella dropping out due to a shin injury, the door is wide open.
Beholder is by far the best product trained by Richard Mandella. The two ran their last race together during the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff in a showdown with then three-year-old sensation Songbird. It was an instant classic.
Despite claiming over $134 million in gross earnings, Mandella has yet to win any of the Triple Tiara challenges. Paradise Woods could change all that. Opening as an 8/1 longshot in the Santa Anita Oaks, the surging star broke out early and seized a commanding lead that she refused to relinquish. It was an incredible performance that seemed to bury 4/5 favorite Abel Tasman right from the onset.
Obviously, there is work to be done. “She’s a young, learning filly that’s very fast. She’ll probably be on the lead in the race,” explained Mandella, “But we’ll continue to school her, just like we do all of them. You never know. It looks like she’s getting better to me.”
What’s also exciting is that Paradise Woods is showing a bit of an edge as well. “She was bad for a moment,” Richard Mandella said. “I went to saddle her and she was mad. She was giving us a nasty time. She got a little too serious about it. It was her third race and they start to learn. I just took her down to the end and she was fine. I don’t anticipate that it’s going to be a problem. I’m going to do everything I can to prevent it next time. But she’s not a nasty filly. Just had a bad moment.”
While the mood swing is a bit alarming to some, the resulting effort has to be proof that this filly wants to give the Kentucky Oaks a violent go. Paradise Woods could deliver Richard Mandella a well deserved win in one of the American Classics. We’ll find out on the Friday prior to the 143rd Kentucky Derby.