July 16, 2024

Kentucky Derby favorite Life Is Good exits bullet work with injury

Life Is Good
Life is Good is off the derby trail after this work at Santa Anita Park (Horsephotos.com)

Early Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite Life Is Good exited his bullet work at Santa Anita Saturday with a hind-end injury that will sideline him for a yet-to-be-determined length of time, according to several reports.

Elliott Walden of co-owner WinStar Farm told Horse Racing Nation’s Ron Flatter that the unbeaten colt would miss “a few months,” ruling him out of the Triple Crown entirely.

Trainer Bob Baffert initially stopped short of giving that broad a timeline, preferring to state that the April 3 Santa Anita Derby (G1) was out at a minimum pending further diagnostics.

Later Saturday, Baffert confirmed to Daily Racing Form‘s Jay Privman and Blood-Horse‘s Byron King that the Triple Crown was definitely out.

The news came as a bombshell following Life Is Good’s professional drill. In his first move since his eight-length romp in the March 6 San Felipe (G2), where he drifted badly to his right in the stretch, the Into Mischief colt was straight and true when firing six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.40.

After the San Felipe, jockey Mike Smith thought that Life Is Good was reacting to the infield videoboard. Track officials activated it for his workout, but he didn’t flinch.

Baffert told Santa Anita’s Ed Golden that he didn’t suspect it as a culprit anyway.

“Management turned the screen on for us today, but I don’t think that’s what caused him to drift out,” Baffert said.

“It wasn’t the screen. I wasn’t worried about that. He handled everything well, didn’t try to bear out, was just a gentleman. He worked perfectly and I’m very happy with him.

“I got him in fractions of :59 and three (for five furlongs) and 1:11, with a (seven-furlong) gallop-out in 1:25, but he did it the right way.”

As those quotes imply, Santa Anita’s barn notes were published prior to news of Life Is Good’s injury.

Bred by Gary and Mary West Stables, whose unbeaten homebred Concert Tour dominated last Saturday’s Rebel (G2) for Baffert, Life Is Good sold for $525,000 as a Keeneland September yearling. The bay has bankrolled $274,200 from his 3-for-3 mark for WinStar and CHC (China Horse Club). He had been following the itinerary of Baffert’s 2020 Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year Authentic, progressing from a sharp Del Mar debut in November through the Sham (G3) and San Felipe.

Life Is Good was prominent in all four pools of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager conducted so far. Closing as the individual favorite in the first three (5-1 in Pool 1 and 7-1 in Pools 2 and 3), he took over overall favoritism when bet down to 2-1 during Pool 4 over San Felipe weekend.