September 26, 2023

War Like Goddess boosts Breeders’ Cup credentials in WAYI Flower Bowl

War Like Goddess wins the 2021 Flower Bowl Stakes at Saratoga (Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)

The $600,000 Flower Bowl S. (G1) found a new spot on the calendar at Saratoga, but the venerable prize will once again have major Breeders’ Cup implications thanks to the streaking War Like Goddess. By racking up her fourth straight victory on Saturday, the 2-5 favorite earned a fees-paid berth to the Nov. 6 Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar, where she will loom as the leading domestic contender.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott for George Krikorian, War Like Goddess was coming off a romp in the Aug. 7 Glens Falls (G2) at the Spa. The slight cutback from 1 1/2 miles to 1 3/8 miles, the Filly & Mare turf distance, made no difference to her dominance.

War Like Goddess was under a hold by regular rider Julien Leparoux in a groundsaving spot, about midpack in the strung-out field. La Signare took the initiative in a race lacking an obvious pacesetter, but went a bit faster than forecast. The free-wheeling La Signare opened up through splits of :24.71, :48.83, and 1:13.66 on the firm inner course. By the time the front-runner reached the mile in 1:37.40, her rivals were catching up.

Great Island, who had been sitting in second, was the first to pounce. War Like Goddess was pocketed by Lovely Lucky, until that foe could no longer maintain her position on the final turn. The door was open for the favorite to switch out.

No sooner had Great Island taken over swinging for home, than War Like Goddess accosted her. As has become her custom, War Like Goddess put the race away in short order and crossed the wire 2 1/4 lengths clear.

Great Island salvaged the runner-up spot by a head from the fast-finishing My Sister Nat, the near-misser in last fall’s Flower Bowl at Belmont Park. Another 6 3/4 lengths back came Lovely Lucky, followed by French shipper American Bridge and a spent La Signare. Coastana was scratched.

Mott didn’t have a clear view of the winning move from his vantage point, as he told NYRA publicity.

“When they were coming out of the turn, I was watching the race and the pillar from the grandstand was in the way, so I didn’t know if she was still on the inside or the outside. Then by the time she came, I could see that she made her way to the outside and was clear.

“She was tucked in most of the way. He (Leparoux) tipped her out and got running room. She’s won on the inside before. If you can get a clear run, that’s all you need.”

War Like Goddess extended her record to 6-for-7 with earnings of $713,684. The late-maturing daughter of turf champ English Channel has been unbeatable, other than her fifth in Gulfstream Park’s The Very One (G3) Feb. 27 in her stakes debut. Since getting up in time in the Mar. 27 Orchid (G3), War Like Goddess has scored by daylight in the Apr. 23 Bewitch (G3), Glens Falls, and now the Flower Bowl.

“She’s a classy filly,” Leparoux said. “You can do whatever you want, and she’ll still give you that punch in the end. It’s nice. It’s a sign of the good ones, for sure.

“Bill Mott knows how to get them to these Grade 1s. They took their time with her and it has paid off.

“For sure, the Breeders’ Cup is the goal,” Leparoux added, “so if she gets there healthy, she’ll be going in with a big chance.”

War Like Goddess is likelier to train up to the Filly & Mare Turf than run again in the interim.

“We’ll talk about that, but there’s a good possibility of that,” Mott said of heading to the Breeders’ Cup off a two-month break. “She seems to run pretty well fresh, so maybe that’s what we’ll do.”

Bred by Calumet Farm, War Like Goddess is out of the North Light mare Misty North. This is the family of multiple Group 1-placed stakes hero Blush Rambler.

War Like Goddess was ignored in her Keeneland sales appearances as a youngster, bringing a mere $1,200 as a November weanling and RNA’ing for $1,000 as a September yearling. The bay later sold for $30,000 as a juvenile at OBS June, and ultimately proved a bargain.