June 23, 2024

Life Is Good a standout in five-horse Woodward

Life is Good wins the John A. Nerud Stakes at Belmont Park (Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)

Life Is Good will be an overwhelming favorite to carry off his fourth stakes win of the season in Saturday’s $500,000 Woodward S. (G1), which serves as the four-year-old’s final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1).

The speedy Todd Pletcher trainee will face four others over 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct, which last hosted the Woodward in 1967, when Damascus cruised over fellow Hall of Famers Buckpasser and Dr. Fager.

“I think we probably would have ended up in the Woodward even if it were run at Belmont Park this year around one turn. But I do like the two turns,” Pletcher said. “It gives him the opportunity to get another two-turn race under his belt prior to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Widely considered the primary threat to Flightline for both the Classic and champion older dirt male honors, Life Is Good previously notched the Pegasus World Cup (G1), John A. Nerud (G2), and Whitney (G1) this season. His one setback, in the Dubai World Cup (G1), occurred over a deep and tiring surface at Meydan.

With many of the other leading older horses in the eastern half of the country prepping Saturday in the Lukas Classic (G2) at Churchill Downs, Life Is Good has few serious Woodward rivals, on paper at least. His Grade 2-winning stablemate Keepmeinmind, was a smart allowance winner at Saratoga two back, but made little impact when a slow pace developed in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).

Law Professor won an off-the-turf renewal of the Santa Anita Mathis Mile (G3) last December, and most recently took the restricted Tapit S. at Kentucky Downs. Informative exits a longshot win in the Philip H. Iselin (G3) at Monmouth, while Thomas Shelby has some early foot but likely not enough to keep up with Life Is Good.

Later on the card is the $200,000 Belmont Turf Sprint (G3) over six furlongs. Thin White Duke, a photo-finish winner over Dancing Buck in the Lucky Coin S. at Saratoga on Labor Day weekend, will face that rival again and 10 others. Also in the lineup are Grade 2 winner Chewing Gum, third in this event last year, and Scuttlebuzz, who is undefeated in four starts over Aqueduct’s turf course.