By Bill Finley
Two-year-old sensation and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Life Is Good (Into Mischief) will likely make his next start in the GIII Sham S. on Jan. 2 at Santa Anita, reports trainer Bob Baffert. The one-mile event carries a purse of $100,000.
“If all is going well, it looks like the Sham will be his next race,” Baffert said. “It will give me a chance to stretch him out. Then I will decide on what’s next and look at races like the Rebel at Oaklawn.”
Owned by WinStar Farm and the China Horse Club, Life Is Good was purchased for $525,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Sale. He made his debut Nov. 22 at Del Mar and instantly stamped himself as a contender for the 2021 Triple Crown with a 9 1/2-length win in which jockey Mike Smith never appeared to ask the horse for his best. His final time for the 6 1/2 furlongs was 1:15.50 and he earned a 90 Beyer figure.
In the first round of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, Life Is Good was the top choice after the “all others” option. He closed at 5-1, putting him ahead of Essential Quality (Tapit). The winner of the GI Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the likely 2020 champion 2-year-old male, Essential Quality closed at 8-1.
Baffert noted that his 2020 GI Kentucky Derby winner Authentic (Into Mischief) also won at first asking during the Bing Crosby meet at Del Mar before winning the Sham in his second career start.
“You can’t get an allowance race for these horses to fill around here,” Baffert said. “I ran Authentic in the Sham last year after he broke his maiden at Del Mar. The Sham looks like a logical spot.”
Baffert said he is looking forward to finding out more about Life Is Good.
“He’s got a great sire and they way he ran was impressive,” he said. “He’s got raw talent like American Pharoah and Justify. I think Authentic had that raw talent, too. But he was just immature at the time. This horse gives us something to get excited about, but they’ve got to go two turns first. I didn’t know how good American Pharoah was until he did it.”
Should Life Is Good make it to the Kentucky Derby, he will be in position to give Baffert his third win in the race over the last four years and his fourth since 2015. With six Derby wins, he is tied with Ben Jones for most by a trainer.
“I train for all the big guys, like WinStar,” he said. “I’ve made it to point where these people send me good horses and that makes my job easier. And we’ve figured out what to do with them when we do get a good one.”