Queen Goddess ready to reign in GIII Frankel 

December 29, 2022

Benoit Photo

Mike Willman/Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.—Idle since mid-May, the Michael McCarthy-trained Queen Goddess, a Grade I winner a year ago on dirt, heads a wide-open field of 11 fillies and mares three and up, going a mile and one eighth on turf Saturday in Santa Anita’s Grade III, $100,000 Robert J. Frankel Stakes.

A 4-year-old filly by Empire Maker, Queen Goddess, most recently second going a mile and one half on turf here in the Grade III Santa Barbara Stakes May 14, will be ridden for the first time by John Velazquez. A winner of the Grade III Santa Ana Stakes at a mile and one quarter on turf two starts back on March 26, Queen Goddess thus has a win and a second-place finish from two tries over the Santa Anita lawn

Switched to the main track due to wet conditions, last year’s Grade I American Oaks, which was run on Dec. 26, 2021, was taken in gate to wire fashion by Queen Goddess at 14-1. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and TOLO Thoroughbreds, Inc., Queen Goddess is 9-4-2-1 overall with earnings of $410,580.

A winner of the Grade II John C. Mabee Stakes at a mile and one eighth over the Del Mar turf three starts back on Sept. 10, trainer Leonard Powell’s French-bred Avenue de France, a three-time stakes winner this year, comes off a fifth-place effort going one mile on turf in the Grade I Matriarch at Del Mar Dec. 4 and will get the first-time services of Frankie Dettori.

A dedicated deep closer, Avenue de France has had a terrific year at age five, posting a 10-3-2-1 mark with 2022 earnings of $379,004. Owned by the Benowitz Family Trust, Madaket Stables, LLC, Wonder Stables, et al, Avenue de France is 24-8-2-5 overall with career earnings of $537,066.

Trained by John Shirreffs’, classy England’s Rose comes off a troubled second going one mile over the Del Mar turf in the Grade I Matriarch Stakes and would appreciate a fast pace to exploit as she stretches out a furlong in the Frankel with regular rider Victor Espinoza.

A restricted stakes winner and three-time graded stakes placed; England’s Rose seeks her first graded victory in what could be her final dance at age six. A mile and one eighth turf allowance winner over the course on Jan. 3, 2021, England’s Rose, a daughter of English Channel owned by Mercedes Stables, LLC and West Point Thoroughbreds, is 12-3-4-1 with earnings of $297,940.

Phil D’Amato’s Irish-bred Burgoo Alley (IRE), although beaten as the 3-2 favorite in a restricted one-mile turf stakes at Del Mar Nov. 12, retains the services of Flavien Prat and will likely press the early pace on Saturday. Winless in five starts this year, 4-year-old Burgoo Alley took Santa Anita’s Grade III Autumn Miss Stakes seven starts back on Oct. 30, 2021, but has been winless in six starts since.

With two wins and one third place finish from six starts over the Santa Anita turf, Burgoo Alley, who is owned by Agave Racing Stable and Living the Dream Stables, LLC, is 15-3-2-1 overall with earnings of $204,974.

First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 12 noon, admission gates open at 10 a.m.

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