(Life Is Good / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said he saw just what he had hoped from talented 3-year-old Life Is Good, who secured a third graded stakes victory when defeating elders in Saturday’s Grade 2, $300,000 Kelso over a one-turn mile at Belmont Park.

The son of leading sire Into Mischief was never in doubt throughout the journey, commanding the compact field through every point of call under Irad Ortiz, Jr.’s expert engineering and glided home a 5 ½-length winner.

Life Is Good garnered a 99 Beyer Speed Figure for the win.

“We were very pleased with he way he ran. He seemed to settle pretty nicely,” said Pletcher. “He got into a good rhythm and Irad asked him at the top of the stretch to go along and he did. He dropped right down to the rail and I was happy with it.”

Pletcher said Life Is Good, owned by CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm, is a likely candidate for the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 5 at Del Mar.

“That’s what we had talked about beforehand and yesterday definitely encouraged us to continue that path,” Pletcher said. “I’ll talk to all the connections, and we’ll firm up a plan, but that’s what we talked about before.”

Favored in all five of his career starts, Life Is Good was an impressive three-time winner in California while racing for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, including victories in the Grade 3 Sham on January 2 and Grade 2 San Felipe on March 6, both at Santa Anita. He returned to action in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial on August 28 at Saratoga where he was a game second to Jackie’s Warrior.

Pletcher took a similar route with 2011 Kelso winner Uncle Mo, who was second in the H. Allen Jerkens [then run as the King’s Bishop] off a layoff en route to an in hand Kelso score.

“I’ve thought about that, they both were coming back in the same two races off a layoff,” Pletcher said. “They were both talented horses and have speed and ability to carry it over a distance. They were two super star horses.”

Pletcher could arrive at the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile with at least two solid contenders after Mind Control displayed a game effort in the Parx Dirt Mile at its namesake track on Saturday. The 5-year-old Stay Thirsty bay registered his first triple digit speed figure in 23 lifetime starts, garnering a 104 Beyer when fending off Grade 1 Met Mile winner Silver State in deep stretch to win by a head.

A graded stakes winner in four straight years, Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stable’s Mind Control made his first start going two turns since finishing a distant seventh in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs. Nevertheless, Pletcher said he was confident that two turns would not be out of reach.

“He was game,” Pletcher said. “That other horse [Silver State] looked like he had him, but he fought right back. It was good to see him get the win. We thought he would handle two turns and we were happy to see him do it.”

Pletcher said the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile is under consideration but not etched in stone for Mind Control, who also earned an entry into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with a victory in the Grade 2 John A. Nerud – a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” qualifier.

“I have to talk to [Red Oak Stable racing manager] Rick Sacco. He wanted to run in the Parx Mile to see where we are,” Pletcher said. “I’ll give it a few days, talk with Rick and come up with a game plan.”

Mind Control, an earner of over $1.4 million, has won all six of his graded stakes scores at NYRA tracks. Following his juvenile season in 2018, which saw Mind Control garner an upset score in the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga, he secured victories in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct before a triumphant return to the Spa in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial while racing for trainer Gregg Sacco.

After earning Grade 3 wins at Aqueduct in the 2020 Toboggan and Tom Fool, Mind Control snapped an eight-race losing streak in his debut for Pletcher in the John A. Nerud.

Pletcher breezed impressive debut maiden winner Annapolis over the Belmont inner turf in company with dual surface graded stakes winner Always Shopping. Both horses finished their half-mile moves in 48.00 seconds – the second fastest of 20 recorded works at the distance.

A Bass Stables homebred, Annapolis is on target for the Grade 2, $200,000 Pilgrim on October 3.

“He worked great. Hopefully everything goes smoothly this weekend and we’ll target the Pilgrim,” Pletcher said.

Annapolis, a bay son of War Front out of graded stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare My Miss Sophia, was an impressive winner at first asking over Saratoga’s inner turf on September 4, where he made up 7 ¼ lengths to secure a 4 ½-length debut win, garnering a 74 Beyer.

Pletcher added that Always Shopping, a Repole Stable homebred daughter of Awesome Again, will eye the Grade 3, $300,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya on October 3.

Also on the work tab for Pletcher was Repole Stable’s Midnight Worker, who breezed a half-mile in 48.44 on the inner turf. He could make his debut on grass in the Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity on October 10 at Belmont Park – a “Win And You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 2, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on November 5 at Del Mar.

“We worked him last week [on the turf] and I thought he worked okay, but I think today he worked better,” Pletcher said. “We’re confident after today that he handled it pretty well so that opens up a few options, the Futurity being one, also considering the [Grade 2] Bourbon at Keeneland.”

Pletcher saddled two juveniles Nest and Overstep to debut scores on Saturday at Belmont.

Nest, a Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House-owned daughter of Curlin, was a five-length winner going 1 1/16 miles over the main track in the Saturday opener, producing a 70 Beyer for the score.

The $150,000 Tempted on November 4 at Aqueduct could be an option moving forward, according to Pletcher.

“We’re very pleased with the debut,” Pletcher said. “She handled a lot of ground which was good to see. I need to go over it thoroughly with Mike Repole and Aron Wellman [of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners], but probably something like the Tempted would make the most sense.”

Five races later, Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Overstep, a New York-bred son of Into Mischief, dazzled going six furlongs with a 6 ¾-length win over the main track.

Pletcher said the bay colt, bred by Chester and Mary Broman, could target the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow on October 30 for New York-bred juveniles going a one-turn mile.

“I thought he was impressive,” Pletcher said. “He was well in hand the last part. I think something like the Sleepy Hollow would make the most sense for him.”

(Pocket Square / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

Pocket Square registers 92BSF in G3 Athenia win; Brown brigade breezes on the turf for upcoming stakes

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown saddled Pocket Square and Miss Teheran to a one-two finish in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Athenia, a nine-furlong inner turf test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at Belmont.

The victory provided Brown with his 100th graded stakes win at Belmont Park, joining Hall of Famers Todd Pletcher and Shug McGaughey as the only conditioners to reach the century mark of graded stakes wins at Belmont.

Juddmonte homebred Pocket Square, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, rated in fourth outside rivals before advancing wide through the turn and powering home a 2 1/2-length winner, garnering a 92 Beyer. She paid $2.90 as the odds-on favorite.

Pocket Square, a 4-year-old Night of Thunder chestnut, entered from a 4 1/4-length optional-claiming win traveling nine furlongs on the Saratoga Race Course turf on August 25.

“I’m really pleased with how she came out of the race and I’m really happy the way she’s put a couple of nice wins together now – impressive wins,” Brown said. “We have her back on track. We’ve always thought a lot of her.”

Pocket Square, sixth in her lone sophomore start in the Group 3 Musidora at York, was a Group 3-winner as a juvenile in France for her former conditioner Roger Charlton. She notched a debut win for Brown in a 1 1/16-mile Keeneland allowance tilt in April and followed with back-to-back fifth-place finishes in Grade 1 company in the one-mile Longines Just a Game in June at Belmont and the nine-furlong Diana in August at Saratoga.

Brown said he left the Athenia trip in the capable hands of Ortiz, Jr.

“I certainly wanted her to stay out of trouble as the heavy favorite in a short field, so I did leave it up to Irad,” Brown said. “He knew what he had and he had a plan. Irad has really focused on trying to get to know this horse. He has a terrific record on her. He’s ridden her so well. He’s been very helpful with the development of her over here.”

Brown said he may have rushed Pocket Square into her recent Grade 1 efforts but that the filly’s recent efforts are encouraging.

“Now that I’ve had a chance to regroup and given her a couple of easier races, she’s shown the ability we saw over the winter,” Brown said. “It’s probably time now to step into a higher level race again. I’m not sure where or when yet, but her training will guide us.”

Brown said he spoke with Juddmonte general manager Garrett O’Rourke following the race and would even consider stretching Pocket Square out in distance.

“It did strike me yesterday when she stormed to the front and kicked on to the wire and beyond that this filly can run further than I originally thought of her when I started this campaign in the spring at Keeneland,” Brown said. “She looked the part potentially of a miler on form when she came over here.

“I saw something yesterday when she got to the wire and on out that she seemed steady and strong as she kept going out,” Brown added. “I wouldn’t be afraid to try her longer distances. I wouldn’t have thought of that in the spring or earlier in the summer, but your opinion can change if they develop, certainly.”

Miss Teheran rallied from the back of the pack under Manny Franco to complete the Athenia exacta, but was pulled up in the gallop out and provided a precautionary ride home in the equine ambulance.

“Unfortunately she bled in the race. It’s uncharacteristic for her. We’ll have to regroup with her and figure out her future,” Brown said.

Swift Thoroughbreds, Madaket Stables and Wonder Stables’ Tamahere romped gate-to-wire in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Violet at Monmouth Park contested over yielding turf.

The victory, which garnered a career-best 104 Beyer, was the 4-year-old Wootton Bassett filly’s first win since the one-mile Grade 2 Sands Point in October at Belmont in her North American debut, following a trio of starts in her native France.

Tamahere entered the Violet from a pacesetting fourth in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa in August at Saratoga.

“It’s nice to get her back on track. Obviously, she’s been really keen in her races,” Brown said. “Her year didn’t quite go as we planned based on how we started her career over here with an impressive off-the-pace win in the Sands Point, but she’s definitely had some difficulties since then and some keen situations and such and been a little inconsistent.

“It was nice to let her cruise along on the lead at Monmouth,” he added. “She certainly loved the course.”

Klaravich Stables’ McKulick and e Five Thoroughbreds’ Kinchen worked five-eighths in company Sunday on the Belmont inner turf in 1:02.09 in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 2 Miss Grillo, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for juvenile fillies.

McKulick, by Frankel and out of the Makfi mare Astrelle, graduated on debut in a 1 1/6-mile turf maiden on August 8 at Saratoga with Ortiz, Jr. up.

Kinchen, by Lope de Vega and out of the Galileo mare Miss Nouriya, rallied to finish second in her August 29 debut at 1 1/16 miles on the Saratoga turf under Tyler Gaffalione.

My Sister Nat [1:00.80] and Orglandes [1:00.40] breezed five-eighths in company on the inner turf in preparation for Sunday’s Grade 3 Fasig-Tipton Waya at 11 furlongs on the inner turf.

“They both went super,” Brown said.

Peter Brant’s My Sister Nat, a Group 3-winner in France, won last year’s Waya when it was contested at 12-furlongs on the Saratoga turf. The 6-year-old Acclamation bay sports a record of 19-3-7-5 with purse earnings of $660,672.

Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael J. Caruso’s Orglandes, a 5-year-old French-bred daughter of Le Havre, won the Grade 3 Red Carpet Handicap in November at Del Mar. She has finished sixth in a pair of Grade 2 starts this year in the Sheepshead Bay in May at Belmont and the Glens Falls in August at the Spa.

Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s promising Grade 1 Champagne aspirant Jack Christopher breezed five-eighths in company with sophomore maiden winner Pipeline in 1:00 flat Saturday on the main track.

“Two nice horses there. They both came out of it well,” Brown said. “He’s [Jack Christopher] on target for the Champagne. Pipeline I’m considering waiting and running him in the Perryville at Keeneland later in the meet. He just broke his maiden but his figures are so fast, I’d like to see how the race comes up.”

Jack Christopher, a Munnings chestnut who was purchased for $135,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, registered a 92 Beyer for a his 8 3/4-length debut score in a six-furlong maiden special weight on August 28 at Saratoga.

John Gunther and Eurowest Bloodstock Services’ Pipeline, by Speightstown and out of the Empire Maker mare Vivo Per Lei, graduated at fourth asking in a seven-furlong maiden tilt on September 4 at Saratoga. The bay colt’s 3 1/4-length score matched a career-best 97 Beyer.

Klaravich Stables’ Domestic Spending worked five-eighths on the inner turf in 1:01.52 in company with Rockemperor [1:01.45].

Domestic Spending, a three-time Grade 1-winner, finished second last out in the Grade 1 Mr. D. on August 14 at Arlington Park. Brown said the 4-year-old Kingman gelding is likely to make his next start in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Del Mar.

“I’m going train him [Domestic Spending] to the Breeders’ Cup and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Rockemperor yet,” Brown said.

Technical Analysis breezed five-eighths in 1:02.65 on the inner turf in preparation for the Grade 1 QEII Challenge Cup on October 16 at Keeneland.

“She breezed really good this morning,” Brown said.

Public Sector [1:02.11] and Sifting Sands [1:02.08] breezed five-eighths in company on the inner turf in preparation for the Grade 2, $400,000 Hill Prince, a nine-furlong turf test for sophomores on October 23 at Belmont.

Klaravich Stables’ Gerrymander worked a half-mile in 48.77 on the Belmont main track Sunday in preparation for next Sunday’s Grade 1 Frizette against a tough field led by Echo Zulu for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

Gerrymander, a 2-year-old Into Mischief bay, garnered a 73 Beyer in her second-out maiden score sprinting six furlongs on the Saratoga main track on August 29.

“I know that’s a tough spot but she broke her maiden and I want to try her at a mile,” Brown said. “I like the way the horse is training but she’s going to have to really step up. This is a really strong race. Asmussen’s filly is in there and I think she’s the best 2-year-old dirt filly I’ve seen run, so everyone has their work cut out for them.”

Klaravich Stables’ Portfolio Company breezed a half-mile in 49.05 on the Belmont main track.

Brown said the 2-year-old Kitten’s Joy colt, runner-up last out in the Grade 3 With Anticipation, has been training with a new bit and will be piloted by Joel Rosario in the Grade 2 Pilgrim.

“He had a little work on the dirt today and it thought he went well,” Brown said. “I just put a different bit on him for a little more control.”

(Gufo / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

Gufo works for G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic; Call Me Love and Mutamakina target G3 Fasig-Tipton Waya

Otter Bend Stables’ Gufo registered his penultimate breeze Sunday for the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on October 9 at Belmont Park for trainer Christophe Clement.

The two-time Grade 1-winning 4-year-old son of Declaration of War went a half-mile in 49.92 over the inner turf in his third work since fending off multiple Group 1-winner Japan in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer on August 28 at Saratoga.

“Everything is good with Gufo,” Clement said. “He was a little bit lazy this morning, but that’s him, he’s usually a touch lazy in his works. We’ll work him next weekend and go for the Joe Hirsch.”

Never off the board in a dozen lifetime starts, Gufo will seek to keep an unbeaten record at 1 ½ miles intact. Prior to the 12-furlong Sword Dancer, Gufo captured the Grand Couturier on July 5 at Belmont Park at the same distance. Last year, he earned his first Grade 1 win in the Belmont Derby Invitational in October.

Clement also worked graded stakes-winner Mutamakina and Call Me Love over the inner turf in preparation for the Grade 3, $300,000 Fasig-Tipton Waya.

Mutamakina went five furlongs in 1:02.41, while Call Me Love recorded a four-furlong move in 49.92.

Al Shira’aa Farms’ Mutamakina was a last-out winner of the Grade 2 Dance Smartly on August 22 at Woodbine. The 5-year-old Nathaniel mare earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure for the win, equaling the figure she registered when capturing the Grade 3 Long Island in November 2020 at Aqueduct.

Call Me Love, a two-time graded stakes placed daughter of Sea the Stars, was a distant seventh last out in the Grade 3 Glens Falls on August 7 at Saratoga. Two starts back, she earned her first North American stakes triumph, when capturing the River Memories on July 11 at Belmont.

“Call Me Love and Mutamakina worked very well this morning, they’ll both go to the Waya,” Clement said. “They have both been training very forwardly.”

Clement could have as many as three for the Grade 3, $200,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational, including Sunday morning workers Maxwell Esquire and Therapist.

Maxwell Esquire, a Patricia Generazio New York homebred, went a half-mile in 48.23 seconds over the main track. Multiple stakes winner Therapist, a New York-bred son of Freud, went a half-mile in 49:00 seconds flat over the inner turf.

Maxwell Esquire will seek his first victory since his seasonal bow on April 22 going six furlongs over the Belmont Widener turf.

Oak Bluff Stables’ Therapist, a stakes winner at state-bred and open company, was scratched out of Friday’s Ashley T. Cole and will be in search of his first win since the Artie Schiller in November 2020 at Aqueduct. A last out second in the West Point at Saratoga, Therapist has won at least one stakes race every year since his 2-year-old season in 2017.

Voodoo Zip, who worked a half-mile over the Oklahoma training track in Saratoga on Thursday, also could target the Belmont Turf Sprint. The West Point Thoroughbreds owned son of City Zip has never finished off the board in 11 lifetime starts and defeated winners two starts back going seven furlongs over the Widener turf on July 11.

Clement reported that Bobby Flay’s Pizza Bianca, a last out second in the Grade 1 Natalma on September 19 at Woodbine, is under consideration for the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 5 at Del Mar.

“She’s doing well. She came back in good shape from her last race,” Clement said. “The question is whether we train her for the Breeders’ Cup or something else.”

Clement said Waterville Lake Stable’s New York homebred Derrynane, a winner of the last out Woodbine Cares on September 19, will likely train up to the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint on November 5 at Del Mar.

Limited Liability works in preparation for G2 Pilgrim; Code of Honor to breeze Monday for G1 Woodward

Stuart S. Janney’s homebred Limited Liability worked a half-mile in company with 4-year-old maiden winner Stolen Holiday Sunday in 50.24 on the Belmont inner turf in preparation for Sunday’s Grade 2 Pilgrim, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for juveniles.

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said Limited Liability worked well with the addition of blinkers which he will wear for the first time in the afternoon on Sunday.

“He wasn’t keen with them. I’m just hoping he’ll engage a little earlier depending on the pace,” McGaughey said.

The 2-year-old Kitten’s Joy gray has made a pair of starts at Saratoga, graduating on debut in July traveling 1 1/16-miles on the Mellon turf ahead of a third in the Grade 3 With Anticipation over the inner turf on September 1.

McGaughey said Magic Cap Stables’ Frosty Brew is training well ahead of Saturday’s Grade 1 Frizette. She worked a half-mile in 49 flat Saturday on the Fair Hill dirt.

The dark bay daughter of Frosted bested eight other juvenile fillies in an impressive 1 3/4-length score in her September 9 debut sprinting six furlongs at Laurel Park.

W.S. Farish homebred Code of Honor will breeze Monday on the Belmont main track in preparation for a start in Saturday’s Grade 1 Woodward.

Code of Honor enjoyed a memorable sophomore season being elevated to second in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby before posting wins in the Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont, Grade 1 Runhappy Travers at Saratoga and a score by disqualification in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Big Sandy.

Last year, Code of Honor boasted a record of 1-2-1 in five starts, including a score in the Grade 3 Westchester. He made his seasonal debut with a fifth in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational in January at Gulfstream and returned to winning form last out with a 2 1/2-length score under Paco Lopez in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin at Monmouth that registered a 105 Beyer.

McGaughey said Code of Honor, racing off a seven-month layoff, touted his Iselin effort with impressive breezes on the Oklahoma dirt training track in Saratoga.

“He trained into it good and ran good,” McGaughey said. “He’s trained good since then whether we were at Saratoga on the Oklahoma or here at Belmont. He’s in good shape now [mentally]. I think the layoff helped. He got a lot stronger.”

McGaughey said Lopez will retain the mount for the Woodward.