By: Marty McGee DRF
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – It was a weekend to never forget. Less than 48 hours after accepting the first Eclipse Award on behalf of his popular ownership group Thursday night, Aron Wellman was in the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle after Queen Goddess, carrying the Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners silks, sped to victory Saturday in the Grade 3, $490,300 Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf.
“Such an awesome few days,” said an ecstatic Wellman. “I mean, just awesome.”
Queen Goddess got a perfect stalking trip in the 1 1/16-mile race under Luis Saez, settling into a rhythmic stride in fourth before looping into contention just behind a pair of front-runners. Dalika, who had taken over from longshot Sweet Enough in the final turn, had no response when Queen Goddess began gliding clear in the upper stretch.
“She ran pretty big,” said Saez. “Today she proved she’s a pretty special filly. Everything came to the plan. I’m very grateful.”
Queen Goddess, co-owned by Gary Barber with Eclipse, paid $10.40 as third choice after finishing in 1:41.91 over a firm course. She was given a Beyer Speed Figure of 100.
Shantisara, the 5-2 second choice in a field of eight, was along for second, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner and another 2 3/4 lengths before Lady Rockstar. Dalika narrowly held fourth over Wakanaka, the surprise 2-1 favorite.
Queen Goddess, based in Southern California with trainer Michael McCarthy, now has won six of 11 starts. This was her fourth graded win, following the Grade 1 American Oaks in December 2021, the Grade 2 Santa Ana last March, and the Grade 3 Robert Frankel in December.
Wellman, who founded his business of partnerships in 2012, was front-and-center Thursday night at the annual Eclipse Awards dinner in Palm Beach when accepting the Eclipse for top 3-year-old filly of 2022 on behalf of Nest, in whom Eclipse is the co-owner with Repole Stable and Michael House.
Asked whether he intends to run the 5-year-old Queen Goddess through the year, Wellman laughed: “I sure hope so. I mean, that’s the plan.”
As for Dalika, this was the final start for the German-bred mare. Owner Paul Varga said she is “tentatively” set to be bred to Flightline, the 2022 Horse of the Year.
The $2 exacta (6-9) paid $34, the $1 trifecta (6-9-7) returned $74.60, and the 10-cent superfecta (6-9-7-2) was worth $46.06.
This was the second Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf. Regal Glory, the eventual 2022 Eclipse champion for older turf mare, won the inaugural last January as an odds-on favorite.