Life Is Good is trying to resume racing in Saratoga


SARATOGA SPRINGS — Earlier this year, Life is Good was the horse everyone was going to have to beat to win the Kentucky Derby. He never made it to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May after an injury forced him out of the Triple Crown.

The promising 3-year-old has resurfaced in Saratoga in a new barn and with a new plan.

Elliott Walden, CEO and president of WinStar Farm, which owns the horse with China Horse Club, Inc., said Saturday morning that Life is Good could race at the Spa on Travers day. But not in the Travers.

“The 3-year-old racing in August and September would make sense,” Walden said, looking at the turf work at the Oklahoma practice track. “Not Travers’ first time. The Jerkens (seven stadia Allen) or the races at Parx. There is a small chance, yes. I wouldn’t put (the Jerkens) out of the question.

Parx is offering the $300,000 Class III Smarty Jones Aug. 28, which serves as a prep race for the $1 million Class I Pennsylvania Derby on Sept. 25.

Walden said Life is Good came to Saratoga two weeks ago. He had his first job with new trainer Todd Pletcher on Saturday, clocking a half-mile in 48.83 seconds after two jobs at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. Life is Good started his career with the Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert in California.

Baffert is embroiled in controversy as his seventh Kentucky Derby winner, Medina Spirit, failed a post-race drug test and could have that win taken away. Walden declined to discuss the reasons for removing Baffert’s Life is Good.

Life is Good is undefeated in three starts and won Grade III Sham and Grade II San Felipe in Calif. before a small left rear ankle chip knocked him off the Triple Crown track.

“He’s very special,” Walden said. “He’s one of the few horses I’ve worked with and of whom I can say that. Justify (2018 Triple Crown winner) and Victory Gallop (1998 Belmont Stakes winner) come to mind. Saratoga is big and you know he’s a Saratoga type horse. If he does (the Jerkens), so much the better. If he needs a little more time, we’re not going to put him on a schedule just to do Saratoga.

The first captain prepares for Curlin

The undefeated first captain clocked a half mile in 52.95 seconds at the Oklahoma practice track Saturday morning. Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, the first captain was joined by stablemate Cambi Lion.

“It was more of a three-shift job,” McGaughey said later in his barn. “He went from five eighths (pole) to three quarters (pole) in 1h12. He is doing very well here. »

The first captain is 3 for 3 with all of his wins coming this year. On his last start he won the Grade III Dwyer at Belmont by 1 3/4 lengths.

“He lost his entire year as a 2-year-old, so he’s still behind,” McGaughey said. “He’s trying to catch up. He sure likes this little track (Oklahoma) here.

First Captain, owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, is headed to Friday’s $120,000 Curlin at the Spa.

Also on Saturday, Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality ran five furlongs in 1:00.90 on the main track. He remains on track to race in the Grade II, $600,000 Jim Dandy in Saratoga on Saturday.

The Caress

Caravel, the equal-priced favorite, won the $200,000 Category III Caresse for fillies and mares 4 years of age and older. Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. – his third win of the day – Caravel completed the 5 1/2 furlongs on the Mellon Turf in a time of 1:02.38.

The 4-year-old Caravel, coached and co-owned by Elizabeth Merryman, has now won five of seven career starts on the grass. After the race, it was announced that the filly would be transferred to trainer Graham Motion’s stable. Merryman will remain co-owner with Bobby Flay.

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