Life Is Good set to return to Saratoga


SARATOGA SPRINGS – Elliott Walden, President and CEO of WinStar Farm, has been fortunate to be one of some very good horses.

He coached Victory Gallop, who spoiled Real Quiet’s triple crown attempt in 1998 with a victory in the Belmont and won the Eclipse award for champion of older horses in 1999. And WinStar was part of the ownership group of Justify, the winner of the 2018 Triple Crown.

Walden says these are his two best. He has another one who could join the group very soon. It’s Life Is Good, a fast son of super stallion Into Mischief, who may have done wonderful things earlier this year if it wasn’t for an injury to his left rear ankle. This knocked him out of the Triple Crown races and left his loved ones to play the “what if” game.

Things are all new for Life Is Good. He will restart his career on Travers Day when he races in the Grade I, $ 500,000 H. Allen Jerkens at seven stages. It will be his first start since winning the Grade II San Felipe on March 6 in Santa Anita. That gave him three wins in three starts with a combined winning margin of 18 1/4 lengths.

Two of his victories went to Medina Spirit, who won the Kentucky Derby, although he could be disqualified following a positive drug test after the race.

WinStar owns Life Is Good with China Horse Club.

“He’s one of the few special horses that I’ve been around,” Walden said over a cell phone from Lexington, Ky. On Thursday morning. “With Victory Galop and Justify … Life Is Good is in the same category. He is very athletic and horses like that very rarely have a bad day, if at all. Every training, every gallop … he always is. brilliant. Same with Justify. “

When Life Is Good takes place in the Jerkens, it will be his first start for Hall of Fame coach Todd Pletcher. WinStar transferred Life Is Good from coach Bob Baffert to him in June. He worked four times for Pletcher in Saratoga.

Life Is Good will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who rode it in his first three races.

In these races, Life Is Good has never been behind a horse. In the Jerkens he will face, among others, Jackie’s Warrior, who claimed a 7 1/4 victory in Amsterdam’s Grade II here on August 1, and Drain the Clock, who finished second.

“Ideally we would prefer not to have such a tough race his first race home,” said Walden. “But we think he’s a special horse. You never know before you get them back, but he has trained really well, his training has been very good. I think he has evolved the same way.”

Union Avenue

Awesome Debate, a 5 year old gray mare, loves it when it rains in Saratoga, especially when she is running.

For the second time in this meet, Awesome Debate took a sloppy trail, and for the second time, she found the winner’s circle.

She and jockey Luis Saez had no problem navigating the sloppy, sealed track as they slid home with a 4 1/4 length winner down Union Avenue at $ 100,000 at 6 1 / 2 stages. On July 18, they teamed up to win an optional 1 1/2 length allowance contender on a sloppy strip. Trainer Bruce Brown then claimed the horse from Danny Gargan.

“The rain didn’t bother me at all,” Brown said after Union Avenue. “I was happy with the surface.”

Brown wanted to make sure his mare didn’t lose contact with the race leader, favorite Sadie Lady 2-5.

“(Saez) had in mind to be aggressive and not let this horse take a loose lead,” said Brown.

Awesome Debate has now won eight of 16 career starts. Sent off as a 3-1 second choice in the field of five, she ran the distance in 1: 17.48 and paid $ 8.60 and $ 4. There was no show bet.

Charity basketball game

The 13th Charity Jockeys vs. Cavaliers basketball game, which benefits New York Race Track Chaplaincy programs, has been called off. It was to be played on Wednesday September 1 at Saratoga Springs.

“With COVID-19 infection rates soaring again, we simply couldn’t endanger the safety of the participants or the hundreds of fans who come to the game every year,” said Humberto Chavez, executive director and chief chaplain of the organization. “We are disappointed, but hopefully we can resume the tradition next summer at the Saratoga meeting.”

The match was not played in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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