Paradise Woods Gets Golden Spot in Kentucky Oaks Draw

Kentucky Oaks Sheet
The Kentucky Oaks will be held on Friday at 6:12 p.m. ET.

If things have not been coming up rosy – well, pinkish – enough, the connections of Paradise Woods got another stroll in the pines on Tuesday at the Kentucky Oaks post drawing.

Paradise Woods, the walk-away winner of the Santa Anita Oaks in her last outing, drew the No. 4 post position in a field of 14 3-year-old fillies for Friday’s Oaks at Churchill Downs.

It could not have been better for a filly that has impressed everyone since she entered the starting gate for the first time only three races ago.

“She has come a long way fast,” said trainer Richard Mandella, who bases his operation on the West Coast. “She has only had three races, having been here before and left with my tail between my legs, I know that it is an obstacle to overcome the route here with an inexperienced filly, but we are going to do the best we can.”

The major competition for Paradise Woods, who was installed as the Morning Line favorite at 5-2 by track handicapper Mike Battaglia, appears to come from the shadows of three.

  • Farrell, ridden by jockey Channing Hill. She will break from the #7 post and brings 5-1 M/L odds to the gate.


  • Abel Tasman, with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the irons, was switched to the Baffert barn earlier this year. She is the only filly that has been able to push the ultra-talented Unique Bella, since she broke her maiden. But Unique Bella is back home in California and will miss the Oaks, due to sore shins. Abel Tasman was installed at 5-1 M/L.


  • Salty, the Mark Casse trained filly from Florida, draws the 14 slot with jockey Joel Rosario up. Salty gets started at 6-1 M/L odds.


“I do like 7,” said Wayne Catalano, who trains Farrell. “I was schooling her in the paddock and I put her in the 7 every day, so we came out just like I was putting her in there. She’s doing good. We’re very happy with the post position and how she is doing everything.”

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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