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War Like Goddess Seeks Saratoga Title Defense | 2022 Flower Bowl Stakes Preview & FREE Picks
War Like Goddess (NYRA / Janet Garaguso)

War Like Goddess Seeks Saratoga Title Defense | 2022 Flower Bowl Stakes Preview & FREE Picks

Magic previews the 2022 Flower Bowl Stakes (G2) at Saratoga, then gives his top picks and longshots in this “Win & You’re In” for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). Last year’s race champion War Like Goddess is still running at the top of her game, but is she a lock to defend her title at a short price? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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The track press release:

The Grade 2, $600,000 Flower Bowl will feature a rematch of the top-four finishers from the Grade 2 Glens Falls as George Krikorian’s multiple Grade 1-winner War Like Goddess will attempt a second victory in Saturday’s 1 3/8-mile inner turf test for older fillies and mares at Saratoga Race Course.

The Flower Bowl is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November at Keeneland, providing the winner a berth into the 1 3/16-mile contest for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, War Like Goddess is following a similar campaign to last year, arriving at the Flower Bowl once again from a win in the Glens Falls last out on August 6. There, the daughter of English Channel closed from 4 1/2 lengths off the pace from fifth to take the lead at the top of the stretch in the 1 1/2-mile marathon and score a 1 1/4-length victory over returning rival Temple City Terror in a final time of 2:29.33.

The Glens Falls was the second start in a thus-far perfect campaign for War Like Goddess, who won the Grade 3 Bewitch on April 29 at Keeneland in her seasonal bow. The 5-year-old bay continues to build upon a stellar resume that is highlighted by a 2021 campaign that saw her score graded victories in the Grade 3 Orchid, Grade 3 Bewitch, the Glens Falls and the Flower Bowl [then a Grade 1]. She capped the year with a close third-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf where she rallied from last-of-12 and came up just a half-length shy of the victorious Loves Only You.

War Like Goddess, who was bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, has amassed over $1.2 million in earnings through a record of 10-8-0-1. She was purchased for $30,000 from the Hemingway Racing and Training Stables consignment at the 2019 OBS June 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale.

Joel Rosario, the pilot in her two races this year, rides again from post 4.

Pocket Aces Racing’s Temple City Terror will take another shot at War Like Goddess after finishing a game second to her familiar rival in the Glens Fall last out. Trained by Brendan Walsh, the Temple City mare ran a similar race to War Like Goddess, but came up just short at odds of 14-1 in the field of seven to secure place honors a half-length ahead of fellow Flower Bowl aspirant Virginia Joy.

The Glens Falls came on the heels of a distant outing in the Grade 3 Robert G. Dick Memorial on July 9 at Delaware Park contested over soft going. She trailed in last-of-9 and could only manage to put away two rivals to finish seventh, an uncharacteristic off-the-board effort after posting a 6-for-8 in-the-money record since last April.

Walsh said he was pleased to see improvement from Temple City Terror, who breezed a half-mile in 49.26 seconds over the Oklahoma turf training track on August 28.

“She’s doing well and we’re very happy with her. She’s been working well, so we’re good to go,” said Walsh. “It was a great effort in the Glens Falls, she was just a little unfortunate in the run there at Delaware – the ground came up really soft, which she didn’t like. But she seems like she’s doing well, so hopefully the weather has gone out of there now and we get decent ground on Saturday. I’m sure she’ll run well again.”

Temple City Terror earned her first stakes win last May in Churchill Downs’ Keertana, and went on to pick up graded placings that summer in the Robert G. Dick and Glens Falls. This campaign, she scored a repeat win in the Keertana in May en route to her runner-up finish in this year’s Glens Falls.

Walsh added that the 6-year-old dark bay has shown improvement from her 5-year-old season.

“She’s come along great. She seems like she’s improved a little from last year and she’s maybe more consistent, but she was very good last year too,” Walsh said. “She seems to run into a couple of these good fillies all the time. We’ll see what happens on Saturday.”

The Flower Bowl will be the third meeting between Temple City Terror and War Like Goddess, something Walsh said he looks forward to.

“War Like Goddess is a star and is very good. You’re always up against it against the likes of her,” said Walsh. “But who knows. Sometimes they have a bad day and you hope that you can pick up the pieces. We’ll give it a go. It’s horse racing, so you never know what’s going to happen.”

Temple City Terror will exit post 6 in rein to Luis Saez.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will be represented by three entrants in Peter Brant’s Virginia Joy, Klaravich Stables’ Capital Structure and Michael Dubb, the Elkstone Group and Michael Caruso’s Marvelous Maude.

Virginia Joy, a German-bred daughter of Soldier Hollow, finished third behind War Like Goddess and Temple City Terror last out in the Glens Falls. She rated 2 1/2 lengths off the pace in second and had fallen back to fifth by the 1 1/4-mile call. The bay mare re-rallied under Irad Ortiz, Jr. to finish 1 3/4 lengths behind War Like Goddess.

A Group 3 winner in her native Germany, Virginia Joy boasts graded wins this year in the Grade 3 The Very One in March at Gulfstream Park and the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay, which she won by 14 1/4 lengths over yielding footing in May at Belmont Park.

“She’s doing well,” said Brown. “War Like Goddess will be the heavy, heavy favorite and she’ll be very difficult to beat if she runs her race, but we’re giving it another shot.”

Virginia Joy, who was purchased for over $1.1 million at the Arqana Saint-Cloud sale, will leave post 3 with Ortiz, Jr. returning to the irons.

The British-bred Capital Structure will make her first start in graded company since a fifth in the 2020 Grade 1 American Oaks at Santa Anita Park. A chestnut Lope de Vega mare, Capital Structure was last seen taking a second-level allowance by two lengths going the Flower Bowl distance on July 31 at the Spa.

A three-time winner, Capital Structure broke her maiden at first asking in July 2020 at Monmouth Park and won her first race against winners two starts later. After her fifth in the American Oaks, she was away from the races for four months before returning for two races last year. A 10-month respite followed a distance sixth-place finish last August over yielding Spa turf and she returned this June with a close fourth-place effort in allowance company before her latest win.

Jose Ortiz is tasked with the ride from post 1.

Completing the Brown trio is Marvelous Maude, who boasts a perfect in-the-money record from eight lifetime starts. A dark bay New York-bred daughter of Slumber, Marvelous Maude broke her maiden in an off-the-turf maiden last August at Saratoga and has earned three wins since, most recently a last out allowance score against eight rivals on July 30 in her first start against open company. Marvelous Maude was bred by Beechwood Bruckner.

Manny Franco will attempt to engineer a winning ride from post 7.

Rounding out the field are Emory Hamilton’s Flanigan’s Cove [post 2, Javier Castellano], who completed the superfecta in the Glens Falls for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey; and Belladonna Racing’s two-time winner Coastana [post 5, Jose Lezcano], who makes her stakes debut for conditioner Cherie DeVaux.

The Flower Bowl is slated for Race 10 and will be broadcast live on NBC as part of a special 90-minute broadcast from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. that will feature the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup in Race 11, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Keeneland. First post on Saturday’s 13-race card, which also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac in Race 4, is 12:05 p.m. Eastern. Gates will open at 10:30 a.m.