Mott has high praise for War Like Goddess; Baby Yoda registers 114 BSF; Forza Di Oro may target G1 Woodward

September 5, 2021

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – George Krikorian’s War Like Goddess ran her win streak to four with a 2 1/4-length score in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl, an 11-furlong inner turf test for older fillies and mares at Saratoga.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said he was pleased with the effort in which the 4-year-old English Channel bay stalked from fourth before closing six-wide to secure the win under Julien Leparoux.

“I thought it was a very good effort. When she’s going to the front, it’s like poetry in motion,” Mott said.

War Like Goddess, a $30,000 purchase at the OBS June 2019 2-Year-Olds and Horses of Racing Age Sale, has won 6-of-7 starts. She entered from a trio of graded scores under Leparoux, comprising the 11-furlong Grade 3 Orchid in March at Gulfstream, the 12-furlong Grade 3 Bewitch in April at Keeneland, and the 12-furlong Grade 2 Glens Falls on August 7 over the Spa inner turf.

While most of her previous efforts have come from further off the pace, War Like Goddess was in closer attendance on Saturday. Mott said he didn’t provide any specific instructions.

“I wanted her to be wherever the jockey thought she was comfortable,” Mott said. “She ran well. There’s only so much you can say about it. She’s a winner.”

In victory, War Like Goddess secured a “Win and You’re In” berth to the 11-furlong Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in November at Del Mar.

Don Alberto Stable’s Forza Di Oro, a 4-year-old Speightstown chestnut, set the pace in Saturday’s Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup before fading to third. 

“He ran a good race. No excuse,” Mott said.

The lightly raced homebred, who won the Grade 3 Discovery in November at Aqueduct, was making just his second start of the year out of a winning nine-furlong effort at Saratoga on July 21.

Mott said the nine-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward on October 2 at Belmont Park is a possible target.

“He hasn’t had many races, so I wouldn’t be opposed to running him,” Mott said.

Forza Di Oro boasts a record of 7-4-1-1 with purse earnings of $309,375.

Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Jerold Zaro’s Baby Yoda garnered a 114 Beyer for an impressive 4 1/4-length score Saturday over well-regarded stablemate Olympiad, a $700,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase who bested eventual graded-stakes placed Caddo River and eventual multiple graded stakes winner Greatest Honour at Saratoga last September. 

With Jose Ortiz up, Baby Yoda settled in second position as Ducale set splits of 21.54 and 44.08 in the 6 1/2-furlong allowance sprint. Baby Yoda pressed into contention from the three-path in the turn and took command at the quarter pole en route to a swift win in 1:14.33 under a hand ride.

Mott said the effort was an eye-opener.

“I was pretty amazed, really. I was pretty impressed with his effort. I can honestly say, I didn’t expect that, but I was pleased to see it,” Mott said. “It was exciting, actually, because I thought there was a pretty good horse in there that he beat that ran second.”

Olympiad garnered a 105 Beyer, besting Ducale by six lengths to complete the exacta.

Bred in Florida by Kathleen Amaya, Alexandro Centofanti and Raffaele Centofanti, Baby Yoda won on debut for his former trainer, Charles Frock, in a $10,000 maiden-claiming sprint on May 30 at Pimlico. 

Baby Yoda was purchased privately following a third-place finish in an optional-claiming sprint in June at Pimlico and transferred to Mott, who saddled the dark bay to a 1 1/4-length starter allowance win against older horses on July 17 traveling six furlongs at the Spa.

Mott said he has not picked out a target yet for Baby Yoda and was not ready to make a statement on whether the 3-year-old Prospective gelding might suit a race like the six-furlong Grade 2, $250,000 Vosburgh on October 9 at Belmont, or attempt to stretch out.

“I’m not guessing that right now. He looks pretty fast. It’s a little too soon to think about it,” Mott said.

The Hall of Fame trainer didn’t have to guess at the speedster’s namesake, a character from the Star Wars Disney+ original television series The Mandalorian.

“I had to google Baby Yoda to figure out who he was,” Mott admitted.

Mott will saddle LRE Racing and JEH Racing Stable’s High Oak in Monday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Hopeful, a seven-furlong sprint for juveniles on Closing Day of the 40-day Spa summer meet.

The Gormley bay graduated on debut in June at Belmont and followed with a 4 1/4-length score in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special presented by Miller Lite on August 14.

While Mott was initially pointing High Oak to the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne, a one-turn mile on October 2 at Belmont, the veteran conditioner said he was training too well to skip Monday’s test.

“He’s feeling really good and I just felt that rather than train him, we’d run him,” Mott said.

High Oak blew out three-eighths in 35.44 seconds Friday on the Oklahoma dirt training track. The $70,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase will exit post 8 under Junior Alvarado.

NYRA Press Release

Photo: War Like Goddess winning the Flower Bowl September 4 at Saratoga. (Chelsea Durand)

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