The undisputed star of the show at Aqueduct on Saturday was the magnificent mare War Like Goddess, who took on males in the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and beat them in some style. The undercard featured two horses making a successful debut at stakes level, with the improving Elite Power completing a four-timer in the 2022 Vosburgh Stakes and longshot American Apple causing a big upset in the G3 Matron Stakes.
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes
Goddess answers Mott’s prayers, G1, $500,000, 1m 4f turf, 3yo+
She may not be an actual goddess but she’s certainly divine. The mighty War Like Goddess added another dimension to her repertoire when beating the boys in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, the marquee event at Aqueduct – Belmont at the Big A – on Saturday.
The mare maintained her perfect record at a mile and a half with a smoothly gained success as 4-5 favorite, following the clear pacesetters Bye Bye Melvin and Astronaut until rolling right by them at the eighth pole, then driving clear to win by two and three-quarter lengths in a time of 2:27 and one-fifth.
Bye Bye Melvin held on to the second, three-quarters of a length ahead of the longshot Astronaut, while the second-choice Gufo was never at the races, finishing last of seven.
“She’s a very good mare, she does everything right,” said jockey Jose Lezcano. “I waited until the three-sixteenth pole and when I asked her, she gave me everything she had.”
War Like Goddess has done nearly everything right in her career, going nine-for-12 with two G1s, and $1.6m in purse money.
One of her rare defeats came when third, beaten just a half-length, in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, but this year that race is run over a shorter distance so trainer Bill Mott – winning a record fifth Joe Hirsch – will point her to the open and much more valuable Breeders’ Cup Turf, over a mile and a half at Keeneland on November 5.
Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes Horse Race Video
Power joins the elite, G2, $250,000, 7f, 3yo+
The 2022 Vosburgh Stakes looked a moderate race beforehand, ripe for someone new to step up to the plate and take advantage, and that someone was Elite Power, who completed a four-timer and provided trainer Bill Mott and jockey Jose Lezcano with a Graded-stakes double on the day.
The lightly raced four-year-old was making his first start at stakes level and fitted right in, the 1-2 favorite easing past front-running Jalen Journey around the turn and quickening right away, coming home under a hand-ride by five and three-quarter lengths from late-running Eastern Bay, with old-timer Drafted coming along for third five lengths further back. The time was a tick under 1:24.
“He’s gone from six furlongs to a mile and then back to seven this year, so that gives us a lot of options,” said Mott. “He’ll probably have one more race and then be put away for next year.”
That one more race could be at the Breeders’ Cup – the 2022 Vosburgh Stakes provides a paid berth into the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint – and Elite Power is certainly coming to the boil at the right time, although the brilliant Jackie’s Warrior will be lying in wait at Keeneland and Mott is noted for taking a patient approach with his rising stars.
Vosburgh Stakes Horse Race Video
The Matron Stakes
Apple is so sour for bettors, G3, $150,000, 6f turf, 2yo fillies
It took American Apple four tries to break her maiden and then she straightaway moved up in class to win the Matron on her stakes debut, the 47-1 longshot causing a mighty upset.
There was no obvious fluke attached, with American Apple sitting in behind the trailblazing Fleetfooted until surging to the lead under Eric Cancel approaching the eighth pole.
She took clear water and had enough left to turn back the strong rally of second-choice Redefined and win by a neck, stopping the clock in 1:09 and one-half. The favorite Danse Macabre was another closer, taking third place a length and a half further back.
The win seemed as much of a surprise to 28-year-old trainer Daniel Leitch, who was signing for his first stakes success, as it was for everyone else.
“We were only here because there was nowhere else to run,” he said. “If there had been an easier spot, that’s where we would have gone. Saying that, I didn’t think she was that much of a longshot.”
The Matron is not a win-and-in for the Breeders’ Cup but Leitch is thinking about the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint for his stable star, going up against the unbeaten Iowa sensation Tyler’s Tribe and the British speedball The Platinum Queen.
The Matron Stakes Horse Race Video
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