(Life Is Good / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)
From the Breeders’ Cup Media Team:
Breeders’ Cup World Championships Tuesday Notes
Ginobili – Ginobili will be the last horse to arrive for this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships when the 4yo son of Munnings makes the short commute from the San Luis Rey Training Center this morning. The impressive winner of the “Win and You’re In” Pat O’Brien Handicap has done all his training at the nearby facility for trainer Richard Baltas, who explained, “He’s run two huge races off his conditioning there, so I don’t want to change a thing. Don’t call it superstition, though, it’s intelligence—and experience.” He’s passed all the tests so far, winning at one mile, followed by the O’Brien at seven furlongs, and is coming into this race fresh. I’ve always thought a lot of this horse.”
Ginobili completed his final preparations last Saturday with a 5f drill timed in 1:00 4/5.
Life Is Good – With four wins and a narrow second in five lifetime starts, Life Is Good is one of the highest-profile horses in the 38th Breeders’ Cup. He will have an opportunity to add to his already substantial reputation Saturday as the 4-5 favorite in the Dirt Mile, which has a field of eight horses. Only Gamine, at 3-5 in the Filly and Mare Sprint, has lower odds on the morning line.
WinStar Farm and China Horse Club purchased the Into Mischief colt for $525,000 as a yearling in 2019 and sent him to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert in California. He emerged as a top Triple Crown prospect with wins in the Sham and the San Felipe at Santa Anita Park, but went to the sidelines on March 20 with an ankle chip in his left hind leg. The chip was removed by surgery.
In June, Life Is Good was transferred to the care of trainer Todd Pletcher in New York. He returned to the races at Saratoga where his unbeaten record ended at three at the Graveyard of Favorites when he was beaten a neck in the 7f Allen Jerkens Memorial on Aug 28. Life is Good answered that loss with a dominating 5 ½-length victory at odds of 1-20 in the mile Kelso Handicap Sept. 25 at Belmont Park.
“He’s a super-talented horse,” Pletcher said. “He’s shown that all of these races and he always breezes very impressively. He appears to be very talented and fast. Hopefully he has the ability to continue to carry that speed over route a ground.”
Even though Life Is Good easily dispatched the competition in the four-horse Kelso, Pletcher said he and the connections did not flirt with the possibility of sending him to the 1 ¼ miles $6 million Classic.
“We’ve pretty much been focused on the Dirt Mile,” Pletcher said. “We just felt like, considering that he missed a good portion of the middle part of the year, that we were giving up too much recency and seasoning to be ready to fire his best shot in the Classic. We have confidence that the horse will handle more distance in the future, but we just felt like for right now the Dirt Mile is the correct spot.”
Life Is Good shipped from New York on Sunday. Pletcher said Life Is Good and his other horses have settled in well at Del Mar. He galloped Tuesday morning and Pletcher said he got over the track well.
Monday afternoon, Life Is Good drew post five in the Dirt Mile, a spot that Pletcher said was fine for him.
“He’s pretty much in the middle,” Pletcher said. “We’ll just play it off the break.”
Pletcher has started five horses in the Dirt Mile and has a record of 1-1-1. His winner was Liam’s Map in 20 15.
Irad Ortiz Jr., who won the 2019 Dirt Mile on Spun to Run, will ride.
FILLY & MARE SPRINT
Bella Sofia – Proving again the adage that horses can come from anywhere, Bella Sofia, a $20,000 purchase as a 2yo, has won four of five career starts and is the 5-2 second choice behind champion Gamine in the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint.
As the daughter of Awesome Patriot, who stands for $2,500, she doesn’t have the pedigree pizzazz of some of the competition she will face, but she has speed and has a resume that shows she knows how to win.
Rudy Rodriquez has developed Bella Sofia for the group of nine partners. She has given Rodriguez, a New York stalwart, his first graded stakes victories in four years. Her 4 ½-length victory in the Test at Saratoga in August brought Rodriquez to tears and his eyes were wet Tuesday morning at the mention of that important 7f race for 3yo fillies.
From the beginning, Bella Sofia has been a challenge for Rodriguez and his staff. Since all of her races have been at Belmont and Saratoga, he brought her to California two weeks before the race to give her time to acclimate to the new surroundings.
“She’s a kind of quirky filly, not nervous,” Rodriguez said. “I think she just hears everything. Every little thing that she hears she just reacts very, very fast. Most of the time you’ve just got to be careful with her. We were jogging around, there was the sound of hitting something with a hammer and right away she started jumping all over the place. Nobody was behind her. You’ve just got to be alert and that’s what we try to do.”
After she won the Gallant Bloom on Sept. 26, beating older horses in a graded stake, the owner opted to supplement her to the Breeders’ Cup for $100,000.
“They said we’re going,” Rodriguez said. “I’m just happy to be here. I know it’s a lot of money, but more people have gotten into the group on the filly. They like the game.”
Bella Sofia, who is out of Love Contract by Consolidator, was sold in July 2020 at the OBS Horses of Racing Age sale. She was part of a package of seven horses that Rodriguez said cost about $500,000. So far, she is the star of the group – and his barn, too, Rodriquez said – with $542,600 in earnings.
On May 6 at Belmont at odds of 8-1, Bella Sofia broke her maiden at 6f by 11 ¼ lengths.
“She showed that she was more than just a horse,” Rodriquez said.
Dr. Schivel – Dr. Schivel, the alias name of the villainous character Mr. Freeze from the iconic Batman series, was on the track in the early hours this morning, well before the break, galloping 1 1/4m under regular exercise rider Jorge Loza. The sophomore colt has reeled off five successive victories, the past three for trainer Mark Glatt. Glatt took over training of the horse as the result of an ownership change prior to his victory in the Del Mar Futurity.
“It’s difficult to get a Grade 1 winner, then inform the owners we should stop on him. But I felt it was in the horse’s best interest to give him plenty of time to develop and to get over some minor things,” Glatt said. “So far, that decision has seemed like the right one.”
Dr. Schivel, unbeaten in all three of his Del Mar starts, is the second choice in the morning line at 4-1 for the 6f dash.
Ain’t Easy – Unbeaten stakes winner Ain’t Easy, one of the early prerace favorites for Friday’s $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, will have surgery on her left ankle Wednesday after X-rays Monday showed a tiny chip. Trainer Phil D’Amato termed the procedure “a simple one, with an expected quick recovery.” Dr. Ryan Carpenter will perform the surgery.
The daughter of leading sire Into Mischief had some heat on her ankle following a gallop over the main track Monday. “She had worked on Saturday and came out of it fine, then walked on Sunday and was doing well,” D’Amato said. “It was a difficult call to make (to her owners), but we had to do the right thing for the horse.”