War Like Goddess Blooms in Flower Bowl

War Like GoddessWar Like Goddess was expected to register her sixth win in the 2021 $600,000 Flower Bowl and did so easily on September 4, delighting her trainer Bill Mott. Relocated from Belmont Park, it was the first time this grade 1 for fillies and mares run on turf over a mile and three furlongs had been held at Saratoga.

When Julien Leparoux pushed George Krikorian’s War Like Goddess, the 2/5 favorite, for an effort in the stretch she outpaced her rivals without breaking a sweat. Leparoux did not have to use much energy in the closing stages either, managing her enthusiasm early on was a more demanding physical challenge for him.

Chad Brown’s 6/1 second favorite Great Island filled the placing the betting market expected, beaten two and a quarter lengths under Joel Rosario. Her barnmate My Sister Nat (8/1) surged late and took third by a nose, nearly seven lengths ahead of Thomas Albertrani’s Lovely Lucky, the 26/1 Flower Bowl long shot partnered by John Velazquez.

The shipper from France, American Bridge (134/10) trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, was beaten ten lengths into fifth leaving La Signare (6/1) to finish sixth and last five lengths behind her.

The four-year-old War Like Goddess was bred by Calumet Farm out of Misty Gallop, a North Light mare. She is a daughter of English Channel whom they stand in Kentucky for a stud fee of $27,500. War Like Goddess was sold for just $1,200 as a foal. She was offered for sale at Keeneland’s 2018 September yearling sale but was not wanted. As a two-year-old she became more desirable and was purchased for $30,000 at Ocala in June by H N D Bloodstock.

Mott’s patience with War Like Goddess has paid dividends. She did not hit the track as a juvenile and finally made her debut in September 2020 at Churchill Downs. It was a winning one, in a maiden that was followed by another success in an allowance race at the same track.

War Like Goddess’ only defeat came on her first run as a four-year-old in February in the grade 3 The Very One Stakes at Gulfstream Park. She was not expected to win, starting at odds of 6/1, and was not disgraced. She took fifth, beaten three and a half lengths by her more popular and much more experienced barnmate, Antoinette, who had finished second in the Belmont Oaks for Godolphin.

A month later War Like Goddess demonstrated her will to win and ability to cope with graded company, taking the Orchid Stakes at Gulfstream Park. She beat Todd Pletcher’s favorite by the narrowest of margins after a trip of a mile and three furlongs. In April she started as the 13/10 favorite in the Bewitch Stakes, a grade 3 run over a mile and a half on turf described as ‘good’ at Keeneland. She beat her stablemate Delta’s Kingdom by over three lengths.

After a three-month break from the track, War Like Goddess reappeared in August to contest the grade 2 Glens Falls Stakes at Saratoga. She was the favorite and won like one, beating My Sister Nat by three and a quarter lengths under Leparoux.

What happened in the 2021 Flower Bowl?

All six fillies broke well and Ricardo Santana Jr pushed La Signare forward from the inside gate to take a clear lead. Great Island raced in second under Joel Rosario while Leparoux battled to contain War Like Goddess’ early enthusiasm, hugging the hedge, three lengths off the lead in third. American Bridge stretched Irad Ortiz’s arms behind her, pursued by Lovely Lucky while Jose Ortiz held My Sister Nat who had been slowest away at the rear of the pack.

The order was largely unchanged as they ran into the stretch for the first time after completing the quarter mile in 24.71 seconds. La Signare had increased her lead to four lengths with a circuit to go and Lovely Lucky passed War Like Goddess to run in third. There was a gap of three lengths to American Bridge who was a length ahead of My Sister Nat. The half mile was run in 48.83 but no one was in a rush to close on the leader as they rounded the clubhouse turn pretty much in single file.

War Like Goddess was about six lengths off the pace at the three-quarter mile but was gently asked to start closing soon after it, drawing level with Lovely Lucky. Great Island was pushed more vigorously to pursue La Signare who had enjoyed a hassle-free time on the lead until they rounded the bend into the stretch.

The six-year-old La Signare weakened when it mattered and was headed by Great Island a furlong and a half from the wire. While Rosario was asking for everything, Leparoux eased past her without moving his hands from the reins. He used his whip only once, asking War Like Goddess to put clear distance between herself and her closest pursuer. Meanwhile Jose Ortiz had got active on My Sister Nat and nearly stole second. The winning time was 2 minutes 13.07.

What next for War Like Goddess?

This victory gives War Like Goddess a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf at Del Mar in November which will be run over the same distance as the Flower Bowl this year. Mott thinks his filly runs well fresh and is not planning another start before the race.

She will take on Europe’s best females and is the third favorite at 11/2. Aidan O’Brien’s Santa Barbara, the Beverly D and Belmont Oaks winner, leads the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf betting for Ireland at 11/4 ahead of English-trained Snow Lantern. Leparoux thinks War Like Goddess stands a great chance against them.