Eyeing a Championship with War Like Goddess

War Like Goddess winning the Glens Falls | Sarah Andrew


SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY–With a sterling race record that befits her very distinctive name all wrapped in an engaging story, War Like Goddess (English Channel) is an impossible-to-ignore race mare bidding for a championship.

Though her late sire was a champion on the track and a top turf stallion for many years, the first foal out of Misty North (North Light {Ire}) brought a mere $1,200 at auction as a weanling and did not draw a single bid at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale. At the June 2019 OBS sale, bloodstock agent Donato Lanni purchased the 2-year-old for $30,000 for longtime client George Krikorian.

“I bought her with that name and I told Donato 'I don't like that name,'” Krikorian said. I didn't see the horse then because he was in Florida and I was out here in California when he called me about the horse. I didn't get to see her for maybe four months or five months later. When I saw her, I looked at her and I said, 'Hey, we don't need to change her name. She's beautiful. She is a War Like Goddess.'”

Some 38 months after Lanni identified her as a budget-priced project, War Like Goddess is certain to be the race favorite for the seventh-consecutive time when the 5-year-old goes to the post Saturday in the $600,000 GII Flower Bowl S. on the inner turf course.

Unbeaten in her three starts at Saratoga Race Course, War Like Goddess has won eight of 10 lifetime starts and earned over $1.2 million in the care of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. She took the 2021 Flower Bowl by 2 1/4 lengths when it was run at Saratoga for the first time at the new distance of 1 3/8 miles. Long a Grade I, it was dropped to a Grade II this year.

After War Like Goddess won the GII Glens Falls S. by 1 1/4 lengths at 2-5 Aug. 6, Mott said he was considering running her against males in the Sword Dancer on Aug. 26 to give her another shot at a Grade I win and keep her at 1 1/2 miles. He opted for the Flower Bowl, where she drew post four in the field of seven.

In the Glens Falls, she won by a narrower margin than in 2021, but Mott said it was just the result of a patient ride by Joel Rosario.

“This year, she was sitting there and he rode her from about here to that wash rack,” Mott said, point to a spot fewer than 40 yards away. “It looked like to me that she was sitting, sitting, sitting and he got her going, he scrubbed on her a little bit.”

The final words of chart notes describing the Glens Falls win were “as rider pleased.”

“He took her back in his hands, it looked like,” Mott said, “as he was approaching the wire.”

Lanni recommended that Kirkorian ask the ever-patient Mott to train the filly. Mott agreed and said he doesn't recall there being any expectations about her when she joined his stable.

“You just kind of wait and see,” Mott said. “You just train them and do the best you can. We had to give her a fair amount of time. She didn't run until September of her 3-year-old year. It took that long to kind of get her ready. She had baby stuff, shins, stuff like that.”

In that first start at Churchill Down, War Like Goddess rolled into contention from far back and won the nine-furlong by three-quarters of a length. Mott said it is an obvious strength that has her batting .800 in her career.

“She can run,” he said. “She's got a very good turn a foot. That's what it takes. She's quick.”

Krikorian, the president and CEO of Krikorian Premiere Theatres, has a lifetime of experience with Thoroughbreds. His father, George Krikorian Sr., was a trainer on the New England circuit and he was raised near Rockingham Park in New Hampshire. As his entertainment venue businesses grew, he became an owner and then a breeder. Equibase stats show him with 290 victories–24 in graded stakes –from 1,729 starts in his name since 2000.

With the $323,500 she has earned this year, War Like Goddess has leaped over Grade I winners Starrer (Dynaformer) and Hollywood Story (Wild Rush) to the top spot on the Krikorian career stable list. Her ability to unleash a late run has made her Kirkorian's third millionaire and fifth Grade I winner.

“It's amazing when she just puts it on, how fast she accelerates,” he said. “It's just amazing to watch her do that. She's very competitive, as you can see. She does not want to lose a race. She'll fight hard.”

The first horse Lanni recommended that Krikorian buy was Starrer, who was picked up for $35,000 at the 1999 Fasig Tipton Fall Sale. In 2002, they bought Hollywood Story for $130,000. Krikorian said that when Lanni–now a well-known advisor–calls he listens.

“We have a bloodstock agent in Donato Lanni who has an eye for a horse that most people don't have, most of the bloodstock agents don't have, for sure,” Krikorian said. “We've known each other and been friends and have done business for years now. And when he tells me he sees something that he likes. I'm really happy to hear that because he's usually right, for sure.”

War Like Goddess won her first-level allowance in late October in her second start and launched her 4-year-old year with a fifth in the 1 3/16ths miles the GIII Very One S. at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 21. She rebounded from that setback and rang up four graded-stakes wins before finishing third by a half-length as the favorite in the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Mott thought that over all she ran well in the Breeders' Cup.

“She did it maybe a tick wide and maybe a tick early,” he said.

This year with Rosario replacing Julien Leparoux, she returned to the races in April with a second victory in the GIII Bewitched at Keeneland. A minor physical issue kept her out of the GI New York in June and the River Memories S. on July 10 at Belmont Park did not fill. She handled the field of seven in the Glens Falls off a three-month layoff and heads into the fall in the Flower Bowl toward the 12-furlong GI Breeders' Cup Turf against males.

Mott said he is inclined to run in the Turf because the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf will be contested at 1 3/16 miles instead of the 1 3/8 miles due to the configuration of Keeneland turf course. He believes she at her best at 12 furlongs, where she is 4-for-4, and that he is not concerned about her having a bit of a lighter schedule this summer.

“Maybe it'll help,” he said. “She's not a great big, stout filly. Although she can run, I don't think she's one you want to be leading over there every three weeks. Of course, the way the races are, we wouldn't be able to do that anyway. We would have had one more race in her, I guess. And maybe they did us a favor. Sometimes those things work out. Maybe the fact that we didn't have a race down at Belmont, maybe that's to her advantage later in the year. We always use the term 'they happen for a reason…,' you know.”

Not a subscriber? Click here to sign up for the daily PDF or alerts.

Copy Article Link

Liked this article? Read more like this.

  1. Belmont Stakes Officially Shifts To Saratoga In 2024, Run At 1 1/4 Miles
  2. 'Rising Star' My Prankster To Stand At West Virginia's O'Sullivan Farms For 2024
  3. After Being Pulled from Keeneland November Sale, Rich Strike Will Be Pointed to Racing
  4. Annual Sponsor-A-Family Program Highlights Holiday Season for NY Backstretch Community
  5. $1.15m Daughter Of Into Mischief Makes Juvenile Debut At Big A

Never miss another story from the TDN

Click Here to sign up for a free subscription.