July 17, 2024

War Like Goddess overcomes pedestrian pace, repeats in Bewitch

War Like Goddess wins the Bewitch Stakes (Photo by Coady Photography)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — War Like Goddess appeared full of energy and ready to jump out of her skin during the post parade ahead of Friday’s $298,500 Bewitch S. (G3) at Keeneland. Try as her competition might, she would not be lulled to sleep.

That didn’t stop them from trying, though.

In a field scratched down to five fillies and mares and with one confirmed pacesetter, Breeze Rider, the Bewitch pace proved incredibly slow. Breeze Rider hung up fractions of :26.71, :53.77, 1:19.88, 1:44.64, and 2:08.91, while War Like Goddess, under Joel Rosario, skimmed the rail in behind the leader in third.

“I’m not sure I’ve been in a race that slow on firm turf,” said Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the trainer of War Like Goddess.

Ultimately, though, War Like Goddess’ class was too much for Breeze Rider and the rest to overcome. Bulling her way between rivals in upper stretch, War Like Goddess seized the lead and scooted home to win the 1 1/2-mile closing day feature by 1 3/4 lengths.

“Joel did well with the way it didn’t set up for us,” Mott said.

Owned by George Krikorian, War Like Goddess returned $2.40 after completing the course in 2:31.26. Family Way finished second, one length ahead of Core Values. Breeze Rider weakened to fourth, while La Lune trailed.

War Like Goddess is the first horse ever to win the Bewitch twice since the race was open to older fillies and mares in 1979. The race was founded in 1962 as Keeneland’s premier springtime event for juvenile fillies.

War Like Goddess’ long-term goal is undoubtedly a second chance at the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1), which will be held at Keeneland in November. She was the beaten favorite in the 2021 renewal at Del Mar by a half-length, which ultimately cost her the Eclipse Award as champion turf mare, an honor that went to the Japan-based winner of that race, Loves Only You.

Following her win in last year’s Bewitch, War Like Goddess racked up additional victories in the Glens Falls (G2) and Flower Bowl (G1), both at Saratoga. She also captured the Orchid (G3) at Gulfstream before winning the Bewitch. Her career mark now stands at 9-7-0-1, $1,079,684.

Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, which lies right next door to Keeneland, War Like Goddess is a five-year-old by English Channel and out of Misty North, by North Light.