04/11/2012 3:36PM

Santa Anita: Island Paradise starts over in turf feature


ARCADIA, Calif. – Island Paradise can show if she has progressed from her 2-year-old campaign when she makes her 2012 debut in a first-level optional $80,000 claimer over a mile on turf at Santa Anita on Friday.

Trained by Paddy Gallagher for Harlequin Ranches, Island Paradise is unraced since finishing third in the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park last November, her American debut.

Gallagher said that Island Paradise emerged from the Miesque Stakes with an illness.

“She spiked a fever after that race,” he said. “It took her a while to get over.”

Since mid-February, Island Paradise has worked regularly at Hollywood Park, including three quick six-furlong workouts in the second half of March.

“We’ll see if she improves from 2 to 3,” Gallagher said.

An Irish-bred by the Selkirk stallion Trans Island, Island Paradise was nominated for the $150,000 Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over 1 1/8 miles on turf last Saturday.

Gallagher envisions Friday’s race as a prep for turf stakes at the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting, perhaps the $100,000 Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies over a mile on May 5.

“The timing is right,” Gallagher said.

Island Paradise will be ridden by David Flores and has drawn the outside post in a field of seven. She is one of two stakes-placed fillies in the field, joined by Starship Flare, who was second by a nose at 29-1 in the Miesque Stakes.

Trained by Kristin Mulhall, Starship Flare is winless in three starts at this meeting – two fourth-place finishes and a third in an optional claimer on the hillside turf course on Feb. 26.

Gallagher also starts Dijarvo, a British-bred filly who was fourth in an allowance race at Golden Gate Fields on March 22 and is entered for the $80,000 claiming price.

There are two impressive maiden race winners in the field.

My Selection, who won her debut over 5 1/2 furlongs on the main track on March 10, is trained by Bob Baffert. Bobina will attract support having won a maiden race over a mile on turf in her career debut on March 31 for trainer A. C. Avila.

The optional claimer is the seventh race on an eight-race program plagued by short fields. There are 54 horses entered from the program, including three five-horse fields. Entries were postponed from Sunday to Wednesday after the program failed to draw sufficient runners on Sunday.