Life Is Good did what he had to do to become one of the shortest-priced winners in the history of the $465,000 Woodward S. (G1) on Saturday.
A 1-20 favorite against three rivals in the 1 1/8-mile test at Aqueduct, Life Is Good broke on top as his custom and was purposely kept well off the inside much of the way by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. But running over a sloppy surface that was not conducive to rattling off as fast a pace as as he normally sets, Life Is Good was unable to get much separation.
Holding only a half-length lead over Law Professor after posting fractions of :24.40, :48.60, and 1:13.07, Life Is Good needed several reminders from Ortiz at the top of the stretch before his class prevailed inside the final three-sixteenths. The winning margin was 1 1/4 lengths over Law Professor, with Keepmeinmind more than 10 lengths behind in third. Informative trailed, 19 3/4 lengths behind Life Is Good.
“You could tell going into the first turn he had his ears straight up and was really relaxed. That was good, but it also maybe plays against his strength a little bit to be that turned off,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Part of his brilliance is being able to go fast and keep going. It was the logical tactics for today, but I don’t think it’s his preferred running style. His real weapon is his high-cruising speed and the ability to keep going.
“I was confident that he would respond when asked, but it was his first time over a sealed off track, and this track has not been playing real fast since the meet began.”
Owned by CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm, Life Is Good completed one lap of the Big A in 1:49.57 and paid the mandatory minimum of $2.10.
Pletcher said Life Is Good is likely to ship early next week to Keeneland, the site of the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), in which he will likely start as the second betting choice behind undefeated superstar Flightline.
Life Is Good has put up a nearly flawless record himself. The Woodward was his ninth win in 11 starts, and his eighth in a graded stakes. His prior victories include the Pegasus World Cup (G1), Whitney (G1), and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). He moves on to the Breeders’ Cup with earnings of $4,361,700.
Bred in Kentucky by Gary and Mary West and purchased for $525,000 at Keeneland September, Life Is Good is by Into Mischief and out of Beach Walk, by Distorted Humor.
Belmont Turf Sprint (G3)
Dancing Buck rolled to a decisive five-length victory in the $200,000 Belmont Turf Sprint (G3) for trainer Michelle Nevin and jockey Manny Franco.
Breaking on top in the field of nine, Dancing Buck led his rivals on a merry chase while opening up late to win in a time of 1:09.60 for six furlongs over the yielding outer course.
“I took advantage of the break because he broke so sharp. I just went on with him and he did the rest. He was nice and comfortable on the lead and he got it done,” Franco said.
Owned by breeder J and N Stable and Diamond M Stable, Dancing Buck returned $10.60 as the second choice. Voodoo Zip got second by a neck over Yes and Yes, who had the same margin on 2-1 favorite Arzak. Completing the order of finish were Thin White Duke, Chewing Gum, Scuttlebuzz, Seven Scents, and Value Proposition.
Dancing Buck, who had two wins and a second over the Aqueduct turf courses prior to the Belmont Turf Sprint, entered the race off a nose loss to Thin White Duke in the Sept. 2 Lucky Coin S. at Saratoga. His career mark now stands at 14-6-3-1, $431,770.
Bred in New York, Dancing Buck is by War Dancer and out of the multiple stakes-placed Frivolous Buck, by Catienus.