Life Is Good Runs Off The Screen In Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile

It’s been a big Saturday so far for jockey Irad Oritz, Jr., who recorded his second straight Breeders’ Cup victory in just the third World Championships race of the card. Following his frontrunning triumph in the Turf Sprint aboard Wesley Ward’s Golden Pal, Ortiz followed the same playbook to pilot WinStar Farm and China Horse Club’s Life Is Good to the winner’s circle in the Dirt Mile.

“I had a perfect trip,” Ortiz said. “He broke out of there running, he relaxed for me. I wasn’t worried about those other runners early in the race, because I knew he was so fast. When we got to the quarter pole, he re-broke for me. What a nice horse to ride.”

The Todd Pletcher-trained colt more than lived up to his 3-5 odds: The 3-year-old son of Into Mischief simply ran his rivals into the ground, grabbing the lead at the start and dominating the race throughout to clock a final time of 1:34.12 over Del Mar’s fast main track. He defeated his closest rival, Ginobili (4-1), by 5 3/4 lengths, while Restrainedvengence (40-1) checked in third.

“We were hoping for that, expecting that based on the way that he’s been training, but it’s always great to see it actually happen,” said Pletcher. “He took it to them. Just too much horse.”

The win is Pletcher’s second in the Dirt Mile, following a victory with Liam’s Map in 2015, and the Hall of Fame conditioner’s 12th Breeders’ Cup victory overall. It was Ortiz’s third Breeders’ Cup win of 2021, and his 14th overall.

Previously trained by the embattled Bob Baffert, Life is Good was moved across the country to Pletcher’s barn after an injury took him off the Kentucky Derby trail in March. He returned in late August to run second to Jackie’s Warrior in the G1 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga, then got back in the winner’s circle with an easy romp in the G2 Kelso on Sept. 25.

Though the pair of Japanese-trained entrants, Pingxiang and Jasper Prince, were both expected to show early speed, Ortiz sent Life Is Good hard out of the starting gates and made the lead before the clubhouse turn. Under mild pressure from Eight Rings, Life Is Good set fractions of :21.88 and :44.94 with his ears pricked, making it look easy.

Eight Rings dropped back a bit around the far turn as Ginobili took up the challenge on his outside. Life Is Good maintained an advantage of just over a length as he ticked off six furlongs in 1:08.96, then simply out-ran his rivals down the stretch. Ginobili kept on well to maintain second, hitting the wire 5 3/4 lengths behind the winner, while Restrainedvengence closed from the rear of the field to finish three-quarters of a length back in third. Eight Rings held on to be fourth, while Silver State was fifth.

Bred in Kentucky by Gary and Mary West, Life Is Good is out of the Distorted Humor mare Beach Walk. He was a $525,000 purchase at the Keeneland September sale, and was sent to Baffert’s barn in Southern California for the early part of his career. Life Is Good won impressively on debut in late November at Del Mar, then won the G3 Sham and the G2 San Felipe before his injury.

With a second and two more wins to his name since his transfer to Pletcher’s care, Life Is Good has amassed a total of five wins from six starts with earnings of $1,059,200.

Quotes from other connections:

Trainer Richard Baltas (Ginobili, second) – “We just ran into a better horse. We got a great trip and it looked around the turn that we were making a move and we’re going to win it, but Life Is Good kicked clear. I mean, I’m pretty happy. I would be happier if we’d had won it, but Ginobili ran a great race.”

Jockey Drayden Van Dyke (Ginobili, second) – “With how fast they we were going, I thought it was going to set up perfectly for us. But the winner had another gear when we got to him but I am super happy with Ginobili. It was the kind of trip that we wanted and we got it. We were just second best today.”

Trainer Val Brinkerhoff (Restrainedvengence, third) – “He ran very good. We kind of got away bad. We thought we would be back, but not that far. I think if we had a little bit better start we might have gotten second. I don’t think we would have beaten the winner. He ran a heck of a race.”

Jockey Edwin Maldonado (Restrainedvengence, third) – “My horse ran well and I’m happy we ran third. The winner was just too good.”

The post Life Is Good Runs Off The Screen In Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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