July 18, 2024

Life Is Good looms large over older Kelso rivals

Life Is Good
Life Is Good (Benoit Photography)

Kelso H. (G3) — Race 4 (2:34 p.m. ET)

Life Is Good will have Irad Ortiz Jr. up when he faces older horses for the first time in Saturday’s $300,000 Kelso H. (G2) at Belmont Park. It will serve as the colt’s final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

The Kelso will be the second race for the three-year-old Life Is Good since joining the Todd Pletcher barn. The son of Into Mischief was undefeated in three starts for previous trainer Bob Baffert, winning the San Felipe (G2) and Sham (G3). He was subsequently sidelined and missed the Triple Crown series.

Making his debut for Pletcher in the Aug. 28 H. Allen Jerkens (G1) at Saratoga over seven furlongs, Life Is Good led until the final furlong, when he was overtaken by division-leading sprinter Jackie’s Warrior. In a highlight of the Travers Day program, only a neck separated the star pair at the wire.

“He ran a giant race off the layoff and has trained well since then,” Pletcher said. “He’s an enthusiastic horse to train. In both works he was well in hand, especially in his last breeze. He kind of fools you watching him. He doesn’t look like he’s going that fast, but then he gallops out in 1:25 and change.”

The quartet of older rivals entered to face Life Is Good do not compare as well on paper. Chance It is the best of them on current form, having placed in the Smile Sprint (G3) and Forego (G1) in his last two.

Farther up the track in the Forego was Doubly Blessed, an allowance winner over the Belmont strip back in May. Both he and Fort Peck are no strangers to the claiming ranks. Informative, unplaced twice since upsetting the Salvator Mile (G3) at 79-1, was also entered in a stakes at Parx on Saturday.

Later on the card, the Chad Brown-trained duo of Pocket Square and Miss Teheran are the primary contenders in the $200,000 Athenia S. (G3), a 1 1/16-mile grass fixture for fillies and mares.