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Defending Champion War Like Goddess Wins Bewitch on Closing Day of Keeneland Spring Meet

April 29, 2022

Making her 2022 debut, George Krikorian’s War Like Goddess surged between Breeze Rider and Family Way to take the lead and post a 1¾-length victory in the 60th running of the $300,000 Bewitch (G3) on closing day of Keeneland’s 15-day Spring Meet.

Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Joel Rosario, War Like Goddess won the 1½-mile race on a turf course labeled firm in 2:31.26 and became the first horse to win the Bewitch in consecutive years.

War Like Goddess’ Bewitch victory last year was the second in a string of four consecutive graded stakes triumphs during a campaign that concluded with a narrow third-place defeat as the favorite in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) at Del Mar. 

Today’s victory was worth $186,000 to War Like Goddess, who surpassed $1 million in career earnings ($1,079,684) with seven wins in nine races. A Keeneland sales graduate bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, the 5-year-old daughter of English Channel is out of Misty North, by North Light (IRE).

The 1-5 favorite, War Like Goddess paid $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10. Family Way, ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, ran second and returned $2.20 and $2.10. Core Values was another length back in third under Rafael Bejarano and paid $2.80. 

Breeze Rider was fourth and was followed by La Lune (GB).

Quotes from the $300,000 Bewitch (G3)

Click here for a replay of the race and the post-race interview with winning connections.

Joel Rosario (winning rider of War Like Goddess)

“It was a slow pace in front, but she got up there. She got into a little position. She did great in there. I tried to watch the distance turning for home, and then let her loose and she did super. She’s amazing. She’s a really nice horse. Thanks to (trainer) Billy (Mott) and (owner) George (Krikorian) for the opportunity.”

Bill Mott (winning trainer)

On whether he had concerns about War Like Goddess coming into the race off the five-month layoff

“No concerns about that. I was concerned about how much pace there would or would not be in the race, and there wasn’t any. Actually, I’m not so sure I’ve been in a race on firm turf that was any slower than this, so it was quite a challenge for (jockey Joel Rosario) to keep her in behind those horses and wait until they turned for home. You’d like a half in 50 (seconds) anyway, and it was 53 and change, so very slow first half and three-quarters. I think the filly overcame it. I think Joel did well with the way it didn’t set up for us, and the filly was good enough to win.”

On War Like Goddess’s gameness

“Oh, she’s honest. She’s as honest as the day is long. She’s never turned in a poor effort for us and she’s really done her part.”

On comparing War Like Goddess at 4 last year, when she also won the Bewitch and was a close third in the Breeders’ Cup, to now at 5

“I think she’s as good. I can’t see a difference. I think the race today is a pretty good indicator as far as that we have a good start. Things change as the year progresses, but hopefully she’ll maintain the form that she’s got now.”

Tyler Gaffalione (rider of runner-up Family Way)

“She relaxed good. There wasn’t much pace, but she settled nicely for me to make a run. When I called on her, she gave me a good turn of foot, but she didn’t have enough to (beat) War Like Goddess.”