War Like Goddess Takes a Historic Third Straight Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland

War Like GoddessCoady

Racegoers can be forgiven a bit of deju vu when War Like Goddess (m, 6, English Channel–Misty North, by North Light {Ire}) won the GIII Bewitch S. at Keeneland Friday as it was, indeed, the third straight year she won the race. She is only the third horse in Keeneland history–and first in nearly 50 years–to win the same race at the storied Central Kentucky track three consecutive times.

The five-horse field broke with recent GIII La Prevoyante S. winner Personal Best (Tapit) tumbling out of the stalls, but the stumble didn't stop her from mounting a quick challenge to Chaton Rouge (Kitten's Joy) for the lead. Personal Best quickly went clear with MGSW Temple City Terror (Temple City) in third with the restrained power of War Like Goddess looming to her outside.

With Personal Best continuing to lead through a :26.34 first quarter and a :52.39 half, War Like Goddess was under a noticeably tight hold through the Keeneland stretch for the first time and onto the backstretch. Just after the six-furlong mark in a pedestrian 1:18.74, Joel Rosario let her rev her engine just a little and the Calumet-bred mare immediately moved up to a join Chaton Rouge in second. Temple City Terror followed and Rosario responded by letting War Like Goddess out another notch. The two both went wide off the final turn and quickly swallowed up Personal Best. It took Temple City Terror several strides to swap to her correct lead, but it didn't matter as War Like Goddess was simply too good. The George Krikorian runner pinned her ears, digging in with minimal encouragement, and the 1 1/2-length winning margin belied her ease of victory. Personal Best held on for third.

“She was outside of horses, she wasn't tucked in, and she was still relaxed enough early,” said winning Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. “Going a mile-and-a-half, coming off a long freshening, you worry about them being a little rank or a little anxious. Joel [Rosario] was able to get in behind one horse coming by the stand the first time, she relaxed very nicely, and was responsive when he asked her to run.”

Famously a $1,200 weanling when purchased at the 2017 Keeneland November sale by Falcon L & L Stables and Lawrence Hobson, the now-eight-time graded winner was a $1,000 RNA at the next year's Keeneland September sale. H N D Bloodstock picked her up for $30,000 as a 2-year-old at OBS and she now sports the Krikorian colors. She didn't debut until September of her sophomore year, reeling off two straight at Churchill Downs before Bill Mott moved her exclusively to graded company. Her first graded try–the 2021 GIII Very One S. in just her third career start–remains the only off-the-board finish on her CV. War Like Goddess then went on a tear, winning four straight, including her first Bewitch and her first Grade I, the Flower Bowl S. She keeps climbing new heights, which included a 105 Beyer when beating the boys in the GI Joe Hirsch Turf Classic S. last October. She was last seen finishing third in the GI Breeders' Cup Turf against top males Nov. 5. The Bewitch, named after Calumet's great mare, was the bay's first start of 2023.

“She's as good [as she's ever been] or better right now, and she's just such a really special filly,” said Mott. “They don't come along that often. You can get a lot of horses in the barn, but to have one like this that's so consistent and she shows up all the time–she's just a very special horse. I'm very fortunate to have been the recipient of her when she came in as a 2-year-old.”

Pedigree Notes:

The much-missed champion and superstar turf sire English Channel, who died at his Calumet home last November after a brief illness, is the sire of War Like Goddess and 65 other black-type winners. His 35 graded winners include six Canadian champions, plus 2020 U.S. champion Channel Maker, and a dozen Grade I winners. War Like Goddess's G1 Epsom Derby-winning broodmare sire, the Danehill stallion North Light (Ire), has seven stakes winners out of his daughters to date, with the Bewitch winner clearly the star.

Calumet bought dam Misty North for $30,000 while in foal to Cape Blanco (Ire) at the 2014 Keeneland November sale. After she produced a few foals, including War Like Goddess, the farm resold her at the 2019 November sale for $1,000 to Charles Yochum. The mare produced a Bal a Bali (Brz) colt named North of Bali in 2020, who has yet to race, then skipped a few years before being bred to Curlin for this spring.

Friday, Keeneland
BEWITCH S.-GIII, $297,500, Keeneland, 4-28, 4yo/up,
f/m, 1 1/2mT, 2:32.11, gd.
1–WAR LIKE GODDESS, 123, m, 6, 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-William I. Mott; J-Joel Rosario. $186,000. Lifetime Record: MGISW, 14-10-1-2, $2,158,184. Werk Nick Rating: F. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree. Click for the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Temple City Terror, 120, m, 7, Temple City–It Takes Two, by More Than Ready. ($22,000 Ylg '17 KEESEP; $600,000 6yo '22 KEENOV). O-Town and Country Racing, LLC; B-Upson Downs Farm (KY); T-Brendan P. Walsh. $60,000.
3–Personal Best, 120, f, 4, Tapit–War Flag, by War Front. O/B-Mr. Joseph Allen LLC (KY); T-Claude R. McGaughey III. $30,000.
Margins: 1HF, 11, 3. Odds: 0.50, 3.98, 3.40.
Also Ran: Ensemble (Ire), Chaton Rouge. Scratched: Sopran Basilea (Ire).
Click for the Equibase.com chart and the TJCIS.com PPs.
VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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