In her first start on dirt, trainer Michael McCarthy-trained Queen Goddess handled the conditions with aplomb, as she dictated the pace throughout and took Sunday’s $300,000 American Oaks by 2 ¾ lengths at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif. Ridden by Juan Hernandez, Queen Goddess got 1 1/4 miles on a fast track in 2:04.72.
Originally designated as a Grade 1 on turf, the eventual graded status of the American Oaks will be decided in the coming days by the American Graded Stakes Committee.
Comfortable and well within herself on the lead, Queen Goddess was challenged briefly approaching the furlong pole by her McCarthy stablemate Nicest, but Queen Goddess was simply too much on the day.
A close third in a second condition allowance going 1 1/8 miles on turf at Del Mar Nov. 25, Queen Goddess was off at 14-1 in a field of 10 sophomore fillies and paid $31.20, $12.80 and $7.00.
“She showed me a lot today,” said Hernandez. “She broke really sharp. She came to run today because out of the gate, I felt that she was trying to run to get the lead and she got comfortable there and (the other horses) let me go. She held on to the lead pretty good. Around the quarter pole when she felt the other filly (stablemate Nicest), I actually felt her too, and in listening to the crowd, I could tell the other filly was coming so we started working really hard and she just kept going, she never stopped. She’s a really nice filly.
“When you watch a lot of people like today, you just feel different, you feel good and I just wanted to win a race today on opening day. I’d like to thank Michael McCarthy and the owners for the opportunity, I really appreciate it.”
Owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and TOLO Thoroughbreds, Inc., Queen Goddess a Kentucky-bred filly by Empire Maker, picked up her first stakes win today and improved her overall mark to 6-3-1-1. With the winner’s share of $180,000, she hiked her earnings to $303,080.
Off at 7-1 with John Velazquez, Irish-bred Nicest checked in 3 ¼ lengths in front of Fluffy Socks and paid $8.40 and $5.00.
With Mike Smith up, Fluffy Socks never threatened for the win but finished three lengths in front of longshot Ivy League. Off at 6-1, Fluffy Socks paid $4.80 to show.
The disappointment in the race was heavily favored Going Global. Off at 4-5 with Flavien Prat, she knifed her way into contention five sixteenths from home, but came up empty in the drive, finishing sixth in her first try on dirt.
Fractions on the race were 23.30, 47.62, 1:12.87 and 1:38.14.
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