04/27/2017 11:36AM

Mandella eager for Kentucky Oaks after Paradise Woods's latest workout

Shigeki Kikkawa
Paradise Woods, shown at Santa Anita on Wednesday, had solid six-furlong workout Thursday morning.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Paradise Woods will ship from California to Kentucky at the top of her game.

The romping winner of the Santa Anita Oaks and the presumptive favorite for the Kentucky Oaks next Friday at Churchill Downs, Paradise Woods cruised through her final prerace workout Thursday at Santa Anita, after which trainer Richard Mandella made no attempt to hide his enthusiasm.

“She looks like she’s getting better to me,” an animated Mandella said. “It looked like an afternoon gallop. I’m pretty excited.”

Paradise Woods and jockey Flavien Prat broke off behind workmate Milhaud, cruised outside and past that rival in the lane, and finished six furlongs in 1:12.40. When Paradise Woods went by her rival, Mandella said, “Flav’ just had a hold of her.”

The Santa Anita clocker staff timed her splits in 23.80 seconds, 35.20, and 59.20. She galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.40. Although Paradise Woods worked from behind on Thursday, Mandella said the filly will use her speed in the Kentucky Oaks.

“We set her back there [behind her workmate], but she wanted to go,” Mandella said. “She’s a young, learning filly that’s very fast. In the race, she’ll probably be on the lead. [We’re] not going to fight her.”

Paradise Woods set the pace when she won the Santa Anita Oaks by 11 3/4 lengths, earning a 107 Beyer Speed Figure in just the third start of her career.

Paradise Woods will ship Monday to Churchill Downs, where she will gallop and school in the paddock leading into next Friday’s race.

A daughter of first-crop sire Union Rags, Paradise Woods has won two of three starts. She will try to become the first Santa Anita Oaks winner to win the Kentucky Oaks since Rags to Riches in 2007.

Paradise Woods will be the first Kentucky Oaks starter for Mandella since 2013, when Beholder finished second.