Long-fused Queen Goddess upsets in Grade III Santa Ana Stakes

March 26, 2022

ARCADIA, Calif.—Back on turf, long-fused Queen Goddess unfurled an impressive turn of foot the final three sixteenths of a mile to defeat heavily favored Going to Vegas by 1 ½ lengths in Saturday’s Grade III, $125,000 Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Michael McCarthy and ridden by Victor Espinoza, Queen Goddess got a mile and one quarter on turf in 1:59.72.

Breaking from the bottom of the Santa Anita hillside turf course, longshot Quiet Secretary, as expected, shot to an uncontested early lead with Queen Goddess about six lengths back in second turning up the backside. Queen Goddess, who came off a fifth-place finish going 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Oaklawn Park Feb. 12, cut the margin to three lengths at the three-furlong pole and when Espinoza called upon her, she kicked clear turning for home and was never threatened by defending champ Going to Vegas.

“She’s exceptional at these added furlong races,” said McCarthy. “Her race in the American Oaks here (Grade I, 1 ¼ miles originally scheduled for turf Dec. 26) was very good on a drying out, wet fast surface. I just think in these stamina-laden races, she’ll be quite effective all year long in these types of spots.

“We gotta get through the summer first, but you know, you start thinking about a filly that handles the 10 furlongs like this, you’d have to be thinking about it (the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Keeneland in November).”

Off at 7-1 in a field of eight older fillies and mares, Queen Goddess paid $16.60, $5.60 and $3.60.

“We were very comfortable,” said Espinoza. “Nice and relaxed, she was doing it so easily. I was getting a little bit excited. I knew that she was going to have plenty until the end, and they were going to have a hard time catching me. Sure enough, she ran really hard…This is the second time I rode her, I worked her (on March 19) and I was really impressed the way she worked.

“I was really happy to go in this race. I know that she would be challenged with the distance, but I think it was a bit better for her and she proved that she is great.”

Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and TOLO Thoroughbreds, LLC, Queen Goddess, a 4-year-old filly by Empire Maker out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Royal Story, is now a graded stakes winner on both dirt and turf. With the winner’s share of $75,000, she increased her earnings to $385,580 and improved her overall mark to 8-4-1-1.

For her part, Going to Vegas stalked in third position early, was second, a length behind the winner turning for home while inside, and ran evenly to the wire. Ridden by Umberto Rispoli for Richard Baltas, Going to Vegas was off at even money and paid $2.80 and $2.20 while finishing a nose in front of late running Neige Blanche.

Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Neige Blanche found her best stride late while just missing second money. Off at 7-1, she paid $3.80 to show while finishing a neck better than Closing Remarks.

Fractions on the Santa Ana were 24.17, 47.84, 1:12.06 and 1:36.36.

UCLA head football coach Chip Kelly presented the Santa Ana trophy. “Spring training actually starts on Tuesday, so we wanted to get out here and see Santa Anita,” he said. “We have never been here before and what a beautiful racetrack…We are excited. I think the PAC-12 is starting to make a comeback here and so I think everyone is excited to get back into spring ball and seeing what our team will look like next year.”

Racing resumes with first post time for a nine-race card on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Santa Anita Press Release
Photo Queen Goddess (Benoit Photos) 

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