Tag Archive for: Life Is Good

Life Is Good and Pletcher all set to rule the world

Todd Pletcher has labelled his Dubai World Cup favourite Life Is Good as a “supreme athlete” that he hopes will “rise to any challenge” as he assessed the colt’s prospects of giving his trainer a first winner in the Meydan showpiece.

Six years on from his previous visit to the UAE, Pletcher – who was second with Harlan’s Holiday in the 2003 renewal at Nad Al Sheba – exuded quiet confidence that his challenger can showcase his considerable wares with a famous victory in Saturday’s marquee race.

Fresh from an authoritative success in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park, where he left Knicks Go in his wake, Pletcher said everything had gone meticulously to plan for the son of Into Mischief since that memorable Florida triumph.

He explained: “He travelled here really well and has settled in great, while he galloped really well on the track. He’s an amazing horse to watch in training, as he does everything so effortlessly. In fact his major works have been as good as I’ve seen from any horse I’ve trained.”

That is indeed a huge compliment from the man whose previous champions include Quality Road and Uncle Mo, and he went on: “From the rail we need to get away cleanly in order to set the pace. In the Pegasus his break wasn’t great, but he got there (to the lead) in the next couple of steps and made up for it. If he breaks the way he normally does, he will be OK.”

Irad Ortiz Jr will again be in the hot seat this weekend, and Pletcher continued: “He showed in the Pegasus how quickly he can go and we were impressed that he got on to the lead that easily.

“A lot of that is up to Irad, who will have to make some in-race decisions, but I shall be surprised if there’s anything in the field as fast as he is. He had a good stretch out, and I think he will take any increase in distance in his stride. We are very optimistic based on his training that he will handle all the conditions.”

Reflecting on that race and the ex-Bob Baffert-trained inmate’s time under his tutelage, Pletcher added: “It was an exciting match up with Knicks Go, and we felt the window between Florida and Dubai worked well. We looked at all options and felt Saudi followed by the World Cup was pretty close. The Pegasus had a good fit, and it was the best two-race programme.

“He came to us with a big resume and high hopes. He’d been a bit keen in his California races when he had a tendency to drift, but he enjoys his job and we focussed on getting him to relax and settle.

“From a talent perspective he’s as good as any I’ve trained. We’ve tried to do all our major work at home and he’s just kept ticking over through the week.

“I think the racing takes on an Olympic feel out here. There’s no question there is added pressure when you are the favourite, but this is a very strong field and particularly the US horses. I’d respect Hot Rod Charlie who has had more time to acclimatise, and will be tough to beat.”

Doug O’Neill’s Hot Rod Charlie, Baffert’s Saudi Cup runner-up Country Grammer – who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori – and Steven Asmussen’s Midnight Bourbon complete a formidable American quartet.

Real World at Royal Ascot
Real World at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

Saeed bin Suroor relies on Real World to provide him with a record 10th World Cup triumph. The five-year-old won each of his four starts in Europe last year and made a smart start to his Dubai campaign in the Zabeel Mile in January, but was well-beaten in the Saudi Cup last month.

Bin Suroor told the Godolphin website: “We need to forget what happened to Real World in the Saudi Cup because he missed the break. I could see from the start that his race was over. He came out of the race really well and his latest piece of work put him spot on for this.

“He is back in very good form and we were lucky to draw stall six, which should make it easy for Christophe Soumillon to be handy in the race. If he can settle in second or third, it will be perfect for Real World.”

The Godolphin colours are also carried by Andre Fabre’s French challenger Magny Cours, who was a fine third to Mystic Guide in this race last year. He also ran in Saudi, finishing a head in front of Real World in Riyadh.

Magny Cours and jockey William Buick in winning action at Goodwood
Magny Cours and jockey William Buick in winning action at Goodwood (Francesca Altoft/PA)

Fabre said: “Magny Cours travelled out very well, settling nicely in a familiar environment. He came back home to France after his race in Saudi and is in great form. As last year, he will be ridden by William Buick, and we are expecting a good performance.”

William Haggas saddles German recruit Grocer Jack, who finished fifth on his debut for the Newmarket handler in the Neom Turf Cup on the Saudi Cup undercard.

“Grocer Jack has hit a very strong race this year with some professional horses, so he is rightfully an outsider,” said Haggas.

“He ran well in Saudi Arabia and the one thing I didn’t think he’d do was break slowly, which he did.

“That will be difficult with all the specialist dirt runners from America and Japan. You never know of course, but it’s a really tough ask for him. The one thing about these races is that you can never win them if you don’t run in them, so we’ll see.”

Life Is Good for Pletcher ahead of World Cup

Todd Pletcher expressed his satisfaction with Life Is Good’s condition after touching down in Dubai ahead of his stable star’s bid for World Cup glory on Saturday.

Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar in November, the four-year-old picked up where he left off by defeating Classic hero Knicks Go in the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream in January.

Life Is Good is a hot favourite to provide Pletcher with a first Dubai World Cup success at Meydan and following a 13-hour flight from Miami, the Hall of Fame trainer is excited about his chances.

After finishing a Tuesday morning gallop full of running, Pletcher said: “I would be surprised if he wasn’t like that to be honest.

“Our flight was good and as soon as we arrived last night we went to the stables and saw Life Is Good and we were very happy with what we saw of him. He really looks like he has settled in well.

“I’ve learned some things over the years of coming here and one of them I think is to do all your work at home. I’ve breezed horses here in the past and I think maybe its been a little counter-productive so we will just have some gallops with him and participate in the night schooling session tonight and go from there.”

Life Is Good is part of a formidable American contingent that also includes Doug O’Neill’s Hot Rod Charlie and the Bob Baffert-trained County Grammer.

Hot Rod Charlie made a successful Dubai debut in round two of the Al Maktoum Challenge last month and looked the part in his latest morning spin.

“We were so happy to be able to run him as a four-year-old and glad we came over here when we did,” said O’Neill’s assistant Leandro Mora.

“He is doing so good right now, he loves this track. He is very calm and quiet when making the walk to the track in the mornings but as soon as he steps on the track and the rider sits on his back he knows it is go-time and can get a little excited, but in a good way.”

Frankie Dettori will ride Bob Baffert's Country Grammer
Frankie Dettori will ride Bob Baffert’s Country Grammer (Mike Egerton/PA)

Having been off the track since last June, Country Grammer was beaten just half a length by local hope Emblem Road in the Saudi Cup in Riyadh four weeks ago.

Frankie Dettori will be in the saddle on Saturday and Jimmy Barnes, Baffert’s long-time assistant, was thrilled with his Tuesday morning workout.

He said: “Country Grammer is a horse who will run all day and will definitely appreciate the two turns and the one-and-a-quarter-mile distance of this race.

“He has always been a straightforward horse to train and nothing has changed with him here.”

Mishriff heads entries in defence of $20m Saudi Cup

Last year’s winner Mishriff and Breeders’ Cup heroes Knicks Go and Life Is Good are among the entries for the Saudi Cup on February 26.

Over 700 entries from 22 different countries including 71 Group One winners have been given the option of running at the meeting which has over $35million in prize-money up for grabs.

Mishriff went on to win in Dubai last year and also landed the Juddmonte International at York, taking his career earnings through the $15m mark. Should he retain his Saudi Cup crown, he would become the highest-earning horse of all time, surpassing Winx.

Mishriff’s stablemate Lord North has also been given the option by John & Thady Gosden.

The UK ranks are bolstered by Coronation Cup winner Pyledriver, who went close in Hong Kong last time out, the William Haggas-trained My Oberon and William Knight’s Sir Busker.

There is a strong representation from Japan, with Champions Cup winner T O Keynes gaining automatic entry to the Saudi Cup, while another Breeders’ Cup winner, Marche Lorraine, is also among the entries for $20m race.

Along with Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Knicks Go and Dirt Mile champion Life Is Good, the strong American team could also include Hot Rod Charlie and Mandaloun.

The French-trained duo of Sealiway and Skaletti are also in the mix.

Life Is Good handed Pegasus target before possible overseas raids

Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile hero Life Is Good is firmly on course for a headline-grabbing clash with Knicks Go in next month’s Pegasus World Cup before a potential tilt at the Saudi Cup.

Life Is Good blitzed his rivals at Del Mar, claiming his first Grade One verdict by five and three-quarter lengths on what was just his third start for Todd Pletcher having previously been trained by Bob Baffert.

The nine-furlong Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park is next on the agenda for the three-year-old, who could face off with Breeders’ Cup Classic victor and defending champion Knicks Go, who is due to round out his racing career in Florida on January 29.

Pletcher said: “He’s in great form and is training superbly like he always does. We’re targeting the Pegasus right now and keeping an eye on both Saudi and Dubai.

“We were very impressed (with his Breeders’ Cup win), he threw it down from the beginning and ran some super-fast fractions. Everything he has done has always indicated that more distance will not be a problem.”

Of a potential clash with Knicks Go, Pletcher added: “They are two horses with the same racing style, it really should be a thriller. We hope we come into it in good form and let our horse do his thing.”

Life Is Good is one of four Pletcher runners that could merit consideration for the Saudi Cup on February 26, along with Happy Saver, Dr Post and Fearless.

The Saudi Cup is also over nine furlongs and Pletcher said: “It’s a challenging race, we know that, but he (Life Is Good) ran very well in the Kelso at Belmont over a mile, so it should suit him fine.

“We don’t see the extra distance being a problem. The Pegasus is the plan, we can then make a decision after that.”