Queen Goddess wins the G3 Robert J. Frankel (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Pegasus News & Notes
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla.— Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber’s Queen Goddess, having successfully launched her comeback last month, will bring Grade 1 credentials to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s $500,000 TAA Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf (G3) presented by Pepsi.
Trained by southern California-based Michael McCarthy, who captured the Pegasus World Cup (G1) in 2019 with City of Light, Queen Goddess is third choice on the morning line for the Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf at 5-1 behind fellow Grade 1 winners Shantisara (2-1) and Dalika (7-2).
Queen Goddess has been third or better in eight of 10 career starts, five of them wins, including a front-running 2 ½-length triumph in the 1 1/8-mile Robert J. Frankel (G3) Dec. 31 at Santa Anita. It was the first start in 232 days for the now 5-year-old Empire Maker mare since finishing second in the 1 ½-mile Santa Barbara (G3) last spring.
“It was just what we were looking for to get her going off the bench,” Eclipse founder and president Aron Wellman said. “She had things all her own way that day, for sure. I don’t think she’ll have it as easy in the Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf, especially on the cutback in distance to a mile and a sixteenth.
“But she’s come out of that return race in great form,” he added. “[Jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] put a lot of great work into her with Mike McCarthy in the mornings that translated into a dominant victory on New Year’s Eve in the Frankel.”
Queen Goddess ran fifth behind Shantisara in the 2021 Queen Elizabeth II over a yielding Keeneland turf in her stakes debut, finishing the year by winning an off-the-turf edition of the American Oaks (G1) going 1 ¼ miles at Santa Anita in gate-to-wire fashion.
Last year Queen Goddess raced four times, all in Grade 3 stakes, finishing fifth in the 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa on dirt at Oaklawn Park in her season debut. She went on to win the 1 ¼-mile Santa Ana (G3) last March and owns two wins and a third, beaten less than a length, in three 1 1/16-mile grass races.
Gulfstream’s three-time Championship Meet-leading jockey Luis Saez gets the riding assignment for the first time on Queen Goddess, breaking from Post 6 in a field of 11.
“It’s one of those situations where there’s not a lot of opportunities for fillies and mares going long on the turf to run for half a million dollars,” Wellman said. “There are certain questions that she’s going to have to answer, as well, but she’s another one who hold in high regard.
“She already is a Grade 1 winner. Even though this race is a Grade 3 it’s arguably got Grade 1 prestige and competition, so she’s going to have to prove she can do it at a mile and a sixteenth on the turf,” he added. “But we feel like we’re bringing a very live filly over to Gulfstream for this event.”