Bewitch S. (G3) — Race 8 (4:07 p.m. ET)
A half-length margin between Loves Only You and War Like Goddess in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) last November proved the deciding factor in the race for 2021 champion turf female honors. That was a tough loss for War Like Goddess, who went favored in the Del Mar feature off of four consecutive graded stakes wins.
On Friday, closing day of the Keeneland spring meet, War Like Goddess will kick off her 2022 campaign in the $300,000 Bewitch S. (G3), which was the first of the four stakes wins for the English Channel mare last term.
Preceding her 3 3/4-length win in the 2021 Bewitch with a photo-finish score in the Orchid (G3) at Gulfstream, War Like Goddess followed up her Keeneland victory with back-to-back, odds-on triumphs in the Glens Falls (G2) and Flower Bowl (G1) at Saratoga. In the Breeders’ Cup, War Like Goddess was overtaken late by both Loves Only You and eventual runner-up My Sister Nat after making a brief lead in mid-stretch.
War Like Goddess will be heavily favored to become the first horse ever to win the Bewitch twice. The race opened to older fillies and mares in 1979 after starting life as 4 1/2-furlong stakes for juvenile fillies in 1962.
Family Way, winner of the 2022 edition of the Orchid earlier this month as the favorite, is the likely second choice in the 1 1/2-mile Bewitch. She has run over the Keeneland turf once before, finishing second in her U.S. debut a year ago.
La Lune, Luck Money, and Stand Tall all finished behind the victorious Family Way in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Marathon last September. Core Values, a two-time stakes winner last season at three, enters off a fourth-place finish in an April 14 allowance over the local sod.
Providing some much needed pace in the Bewitch will be Breeze Rider, who’s won 13 of 28 starts lifetime. However, she went unplaced in her only prior start beyond 1 1/16 miles.