Chances of the home team taking the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1T) at the end of the season appear dimmer and dimmer with every passing month.
The past three grade 1 races in the older mare grass division have fallen to European invaders in the shape of Althiqa in the Longines Just a Game (G1T) and Diana Stakes (G1T) and Santa Barbara in the Beverly D. Stakes (G1T).
But as the 44th renewal of the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (G1T) looms, George Krikorian’s War Like Goddess could emerge as America’s greatest hope to win in her division at the World Championships when she vies for her first grade 1 victory Sept. 4.
Held for the first time in the race’s history at Saratoga Race Course, the Flower Bowl is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge contest for the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. The 1 3/8 miles of the race are well within the distance capabilities of the route-loving War Like Goddess, whose customary late kick has swept the 4-year-old filly into the winner’s circle in five of her six starts.
Purchased for $30,000 at the 2019 Ocala Breeders’ Sales June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale, War Like Goddess has far out-earned her modest purchase price, rattling off three consecutive graded stakes wins this year for Hall of Fame horseman Bill Mott. The streak began in the March 27 Orchid Stakes (G3T) at Gulfstream Park. There, seemingly beaten mid-stretch, she closed relentlessly on the outside to collar graded stakes winner Always Shopping in the shadow of the wire. Returning off nearly four weeks’ rest in Keeneland‘s 1 1/2-mile Bewitch Stakes (G3T), the filly thrived on the good turf course, sailing past her rivals in the straightaway for a 3 3/4 length triumph. Mott freshened War Like Goddess for three months before tackling Saratoga, and she responded with the best performance of her career, powering from the back of the pack to defeat the fellow Flower Bowl contender My Sister Nat by a decisive 3 1/4 lengths under regular pilot Julien Leparoux in the Glens Falls Stakes (G2T).
“Her (career) performance (has been) good, no matter how much they paid for her,” said Mott.
Breaking from the 3 hole with Leparoux in a seven-horse field, top-weighted War Like Goddess has been awarded 4-5 morning line odds in pursuit of her grade 1 conquest. Stabled at Mott’s traditional barn on the Saratoga backside by the Oklahoma training track, she tuned up for the Flower Bowl with a bullet :47 4/5 half-mile two works back Aug. 18.
“It’s all a test, right?” said Mott. “These are tough horses, but the goal is to try and win a grade 1 with her. She’s done quite well and handled every step so far, so we hope she moves another step forward and accomplishes this.”
Bred by Calumet Farm in Kentucky, War Like Goddess is a daughter of the red-hot turf stallion English Channel , the sire of two grade 1 victors on the grass this year with Mr. D Stakes (G1T) winner Two Emmys and Man o’War Stakes (G1T) winner Channel Cat .
The Brendan Walsh trained La Signare has placed in three consecutive grade 1 appearances leading into the Flower Bowl. Owned by Madaket Stables, Tim Cambron, Anna Cambron, and Bradley Thoroughbreds, the French-bred was third in the April 10 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland before shipping out west and falling a half-length short of grade 1 glory to Maxim Rate when second in the May 31 Gamely Stakes (G1T).
In her previous trip to the post, the Siyouni mare finished a troubled third behind the brilliant Godolphin duo of Althiqa and Summer Romance in the July 17 Diana Stakes (G1T) over the Saratoga turf course. A grade 3 winner as a 3-year-old, the now aged 6 La Signare will start from the 1 post with Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons.
According to Walsh assistant Thomas Molloy, La Signare has been training forwardly out of the Diana. The bay took a half-mile spin around the Oklahoma dirt track in :49 3/5 Aug. 28.
“She looks unreal,” said Molloy.