Queen Goddess and Victor Espinoza winning the Santa Ana Stakes
A Grade 1 winner on opening day, Dec. 26, the Michael McCarthy-trained Queen Goddess bids for her third graded stakes win of the meet as she heads a field of six fillies and mares three and up going a mile and one half on turf in Saturday’s Grade 3, $125,000 Santa Barbara Stakes at Santa Anita.
A winner of the opening day American Oaks at a mile and one quarter on dirt, Queen Goddess was subsequently a disappointing fifth in the G3 Bayakoa Stakes on dirt at Oaklawn Park Feb. 12, but came back to Santa Anita to register an impressive 1 ½ length win over multiple graded stakes winners Going to Vegas and Neige Blanche at a mile and one quarter on turf in the G3 Santa Ana Stakes March 26.
Attentive to the pace in the Santa Ana, Queen Goddess made an eye catch move heading to the quarter pole and was never threatened thereafter in a performance that produced a 92 Beyer Speed Figure.
Although Neige Blanche should appreciate the added quarter mile, Queen Goddess, who will be ridden back by Victor Espinoza, galloped out in the Santa Ana as though a mile and one half would be to her liking as well. Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and TOLO Thoroughbreds, Inc., Queen Goddess, a 4-year-old filly by Empire Maker out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Royal Story, is 8-4-1-1 with earnings of $385,580.
Trained by Leonard Powell, French-bred Neige Blanche, a winner of the G3 Astra Stakes at a mile and one half on turf two starts back on Jan. 17, is the defending champ in the Santa Barbara, having won it seven starts back on May 8 of last year and is thus unbeaten in two tries at the distance.
Off at 7-1 in the Santa Ana, she was beaten a diminishing nose by Going to Vegas for second money in a big effort under regular rider Juan Hernandez. A 5-year-old French-bred mare, Neige Blanche has won four turf stakes, two of them at 1 3/8 miles, from 11 stateside starts with Powell and although she has proven ability from off the pace, she can also go to the front, as she did in taking Del Mar’s G3 Red Carpet Stakes in gate to wire fashion three starts back on Nov. 25.
Owned by Madaket Stables, LLC, Laura De Seroux, Marsh Naify and Mathilde Powell, Neige Blanche had three wins from six starts in her native France and is thus 17-7-0-4 overall with earnings of $405,280.
THE GRADE 3 SANTA BARBARA WITH JOCKEYS & WEIGHTS IN POST POSITION ORDER
Race 5 of 9 Approximate post time 3 p.m. PT
- Queen Goddess—Victor Espinoza—126
- New Heat—Tyler Baze—122
- Queen Of the Temple—Drayden Van Dyke—122
- Neige Blanche—Juan Hernandez—126
- Cover Version—Ramon Vazquez—122
- Carpe Vinum—Abel Cedillo–122
First post time for a nine-race card on Saturday is at 1 p.m. with admission gates opening at 11 a.m.