George Krikorian’s War Like Goddessperfectly piloted by Joel Rosario, drew away in hand to a 1 1/4-length score in Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Glens Fallsa 12-furlong inner turf test for older fillies and mares, at Saratoga Race Course.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 5-year-old English Channel mare is now 3-for-3 over the Saratoga turf, including a 3 1/4-length score in this event last year ahead of a 2 1/4 -length win in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational.
Key Biscayne set the pace under Junior Alvarado, marking off splits of 25.26 seconds, 51.53 and 1:17.51 over the firm going with Petricor stalking from second and War Like Goddess tracking in fourth to the outside of Virginia Joy.
Petricor was given her cue by Jose Ortiz into the final turn as Flanigan’s Cove made a wide bite from the back of the pack with Rosario still sitting chilly aboard War Like Goddess.
War Like Goddess took a three-wide route home from the top of the lane, traveling safe and in the clear of the Irad Ortiz, Jr.-piloted Virginia Joy and the pacesetter as Temple City Terror and Flanigan’s Cove rallied into contention. Rosario, comfortable throughout, needed to provide little urging down the lane as War Like Goddess strode home a winner in a final time of 2:29.33. Temple City Terror completed the exacta by a half-length over Virginia Joy with Flanigan’s Cove, Key Biscayne, Treasure Tails and Petricor rounding out the order of finish.
Mott praised the confident action by Rosario, who secured his ninth graded win of the Spa summer meet.
“They were sitting on a bunch of them early, but I guess late she had a little more kick than the rest of them,” Mott said. “You always worry about if they’re going fast enough up front to give her enough pace and you don’t want them to have to wrestle with her to keep her back off the pace. Joel did a good job. He has good hands and the filly responded to him and when he asked her to go on, she was there for him.”
Rosario, who took over riding duties from Julien Leparoux this year, noted his mare’s tremendous turn of foot.
“She’s a nice horse and easy to ride. The pace was slow, but the whole time I had confidence in her and when I turned her loose and wanted to go she went,” Rosario said. “She was running really nice for me and I just had to stay with her like that. She felt the confidence at that point and I just went with that. She’s just amazing. Even before I rode her, when Julien used to, I remember she just always had that kick at the end. I’m very happy with the ride.”
War Like Goddess enjoyed a tremendous 2021 campaign, posting wins in the Grade 3 Orchid at Gulfstream Park and the Grade 3 Bewitch at Keeneland before her summer success at the Spa. She completed her 4-year-old season with a troubled trip in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November at Del Mar after a wide and rushed-up trip when finishing third, just a half-length behind the victorious Loves Only You and My Sister Nat. Rosario guided her to a stylish return win last out in the Grade 3 Bewitch in April at Keeneland.
Mott said War Like Goddess will make her next start at the Spa with either a title defense in the 11-furlong Grade 2, $600,000 Flower Bowl on September 3, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders ‘ Cup Filly and Mare Turf; or take on the boys in the 12-furlong Grade 1, $750,000 Sword Dancer on August 27, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“She’s a Grade 1 winner already, but unfortunately the Flower Bowl has been a Grade 1 since I’ve been in New York and they downgraded it, which is a very big disappointment. There have been some real top fillies run in the race,” said Mott, a five-time Flower Bowl winner.
Tyler Gaffalione, aboard runner-up Temple City Terror, said he was proud of his mare’s effort as she improved one position from her third-place Glens Falls finish a year ago.
“It was a real gutsy performance today,” Gaffalione said. “I followed Irad and Joel most of the way around there, and when Joel started making his move, I tipped out behind him and just kind of followed him. The filly put in a big run, just second best today.”
Bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, War Like Goddess banked $137,500 in victory, while improving her record to 10-8-0-1. She returned $2.80 for a $2 win ticket.