War Like Goddess Beats The Boys in Turf Classic, BC Turf Next

War Like Goddess | Sarah Andrew

If Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott had any qualms whether his star turf distaffer could hold her own against the boys, George Krikorian's War Like Goddess (English Channel) dispelled all doubts with an emphatic 2 3/4-length score over males in the GI Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, run this year at Belmont at the Big A. Pacesetter Bye Bye Melvin (Uncle Mo) was second with Astronaut (Quality Road) checking in third, and second choice Gufo (Declaration of War), third as the favorite in last year's renewal, a dull last of seven. It had been nearly four decades and a 1983 renewal of the Joe Hirsch that pre-dated the inception of the Breeders' Cup when the great All Along (Fr) (Targowice)–that year's winner of the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe-last beat the boys in the race, also the last time it was run at Aqueduct.

“I always thought she belonged,” said Mott, who indicated War Like Goddess will face males a second time in the Nov. 5 GI Longines Breeders' Cup Turf. “There's good horses and she could get outrun, but I think she deserves an opportunity, for sure. I don't think we're out of line whatsoever. We're a long ways from the winner's circle, but I think she deserves her opportunity. She's done nothing wrong.”

The Joe Hirsch and the Breeders' Cup Turf are both contested at 1 1/2 miles, while the GI Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, in which War Like Goddess finished third last year, will be held at 1 3/16 miles due to Keeneland's configuration. War Like Goddess is undefeated in five tries at 1 1/2 miles.

In the Joe Hirsch, run over Aqueduct's inner turf, Bye Bye Melvin went straight to the lead and led the field on a merry chase, clocking the first quarter in :24.25, the half in :48.96, and the mile in 1:39.10. Astronaut rated in second while War Like Goddess settled on the rail in third as the odds-on favorite. The field got closer to Bye Bye Melvin on the backstretch and after the third of three turns, War Like Goddess shifted to the outside, got a couple of right-handed taps from jockey Jose Lezcano, and overhauled the leader, lengthening her stride and taking over with aplomb. She was an easy winner.

“The filly is very easy to ride,” said Lezano. “She broke very good and I moved her up a little more than I wanted to, but she seemed a little quiet so I moved her up a little more. I wanted position at the start of the race and [Bye Bye Melvin] and [Astronaut] went, so I sat right there. I stepped aside and stayed there the whole way around. It was very easy to get there, there were only seven horses.

“She's a very nice mare and she does everything right. When I asked her, she gave me her race. She's a very good horse. When you ride a horse for Billy [Mott], you've always got a chance to win this kind of race.”

But for a pace-compromised neck defeat in the GII Flower Bowl S. Sept. 3, War Like Goddess would be undefeated for the year. She captured the Aug. 6 GII Glens Falls S. at the Spa after a minor physical issue that kept her away from the races for a few months following her GIII Bewitch S. win Apr. 29 at Keeneland. Last year, she won four straight graded stakes, including the then-GI Flower Bowl, prior to her Breeders' Cup third in the Filly/Mare event run in 2021 at 1 3/8 miles.

Pedigree Notes:

Brad Kelly's Calumet Farm is having somewhat of a resurgence this year as a breeder, with both GI Kentucky Derby victor Rich Strike (Keen Ice) and War Like Goddess, among others, emerging from the program. Both Rich Strike and War Like Goddess are by Calumet-standing stallions, although English Channel was lost after a brief illness last November. English Channel, himself a turf champion in 2007, has been a reliable conduit for turf class, with 11 of his 12 Grade I winners coming on the grass. Overall, English Channel has 34 graded winners and 65 black-type winners in the Northern Hemisphere. It's also not the first time he's made an impact in the Joe Hirsch: he won the race himself in 2006 and 2007 after a second in 2005 and his Canadian champion son, Channel Maker, won it in 2018 and 2020 and finished second in 2019.

War Like Goddess is out of a North Light (Ire) mare and is one of six stakes winners out of daughters of the Danehill stallion and 2004 G1 Epsom Derby winner. Misty North, purchased by Calumet at the 2014 Keeneland November sale for $30,000 in foal to Cape Blanco (Ire), was resold at the same sale in 2019 to Charles Yochum for $1,000. She produced a colt named North of Bali (Bal a Bali {Brz}) the next spring, currently the last reported foal for the 12-year-old mare, although she was bred to Curlin for next term.

Saturday, Belmont at The Big A
JOE HIRSCH TURF CLASSIC S.-GI, $500,000, Belmont The Big A, 10-8, 3yo/up, 1 1/2mT, 2:27.29, gd.
1–WAR LIKE GODDESS, 123, m, 5, by English Channel
                1st Dam: Misty North, by North Light (Ire)
                2nd Dam: Misty Gallop, by Victory Gallop
                3rd Dam: Romanette, by Alleged
($1,200 Wlg '17 KEENOV; $1,000 RNA Ylg '18 KEESEP; $30,000
2yo '19 OBSOPN). O-George Krikorian; B-Calumet Farm (KY);
T-W Mott; J-J Lezcano. $275,000. Lifetime Record: 12-9-1-1,
$1,612,184. Click for eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Werk
Nick Rating: F.
Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Bye Bye Melvin, 126, g, 5, Uncle Mo–Karlovy Vary, by
Dynaformer. 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. O-Alex G. Campbell, Jr.;
B-Alex G. Campbell, Jr. Thoroughbreds, LLC (KY); T-H. Graham
Motion. $100,000.
3–Astronaut, 126, h, 5, Quality Road–Armanda (Ger), by
Acatenango (Ger). 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. O-John M. B.
O'Connor; B-Anastasie Astrid Christiansen-Croy (KY); T-Thomas
Albertrani. $60,000.
Margins: 2 3/4, 3/4, NO. Odds: 0.95, 6.70, 67.75.
Also Ran: Rockemperor (Ire)-(DH), Soldier Rising (GB)-(DH), Adhamo (Ire), Gufo. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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