Racehorses with local ties perform well at Santa Anita Park Winter/Spring Meet opening day

Queen Goddess on her way to a victory in the Grade I, $300,000 American Oaks.
Queen Goddess on her way to a victory in the Grade I, $300,000 American Oaks.
(Kelley Carlson)

Racehorses with local connections fared well during the Dec. 26 opening day of the Santa Anita Park Winter/Spring Meet in Arcadia, led by Queen Goddess in the Grade I, $300,000 American Oaks.

The 3-year-old filly, with Juan Hernandez in the saddle, led from start to finish in the 1 1/4-mile race. Her stablemate, Nicest, was 2 3/4 lengths behind in second, while East Coast invader Fluffy Socks was an additional 3 1/4 lengths back in third.

Queen Goddess finished the race on the main track in 2:04.72. The American Oaks was initially slated to be contested on the turf, but was moved to the dirt after heavy rain pelted Santa Anita in the days leading up to the Dec. 26 opening event. According to graded stakes rules, races are automatically dropped a level when moved from the turf to another surface, but the Grade I status was reinstated by the American Graded Stakes Committee, according to a report on Dec. 30.

Trained by Michael McCarthy, Queen Goddess is owned by Del Mar-based Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and TOLO Thoroughbreds Inc. Eclipse Thoroughbred’s president and founder is Rancho Santa Fe resident Aron Wellman.

Another area resident represented during the stakes-heavy Santa Anita program that day was Bill Strauss of Del Mar, who co-owns Hot Rod Charlie (second, Grade II, $200,000 San Antonio Stakes) and Brilliant Cut (second, Grade I, $300,000 La Brea Stakes).

In addition, Azul Coast - co-owned by part-time Del Mar resident Mike Pegram - was fifth in the San Antonio Stakes.

Santa Anita’s Winter/Spring Meet runs through June 19. For more information, visit www.santaanita.com.