Life Is Good turned an anticipated matchup with presumptive 2021 Horse of the Year Knicks Go into a one-sided affair, dominating Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park on the lead.
After speeding clear into the first turn with Irad Ortiz Jr., the Todd Pletcher-trained colt was never threatened, scoring by a 3 1/4-length margin.
A winner in six of seven starts, Life Is Good left the starting gate as the slight 4-5 favorite. The four-year-old son of Into Mischief established splits in :23.12, :46.35, and 1:10.15 before completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.91.
“I respect the other horse (Knicks Go) a lot,” Ortiz said. “I thought it was going to be a match race. But going into the first turn, my horse was so fast, so I just let him do his thing. I felt like a lot of horse and I couldn’t wait to let him run.”
“I loved when he got to the first turn the way he did,” Pletcher added. “He was going fast, but he was in hand doing it. It looked like he was comfortable throughout. I felt like he was in control. He was going plenty fast enough and the track was wicked fast today.”
Knicks Go, the 9-10 second choice and last year’s Pegasus World Cup winner, didn’t display his customary speed, winding up third after the opening quarter-mile. The Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner stalked in second down the backstretch while several lengths back, and he held his position to the wire, finishing a length better than Stilleto Boy in third.
“It looked like he broke alright and then kind of got outrun a little bit,” said Brad Cox, trainer of Knicks Go. “I don’t know, that horse, the winner, he ran off the TV screen. The plan was definitely to go. I wanted to; we just got outrun. I talked to Joel (Rosario) and he said he handled the track fine.”
Endorsed, Sir Winston, Chess Chief, Commandeer, Title Ready, and Empty Tomb completed the order of finish.
Owned by CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm LLC, Life Is Good won his first three starts, including the San Felipe (G2) and Sham (G3), under the care of Bob Baffert before being sidelined last spring. Transferred to Pletcher, the bay colt recorded a neck second to Jackie’s Warrior in the Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) before completing last season with convincing wins in the Kelso H. (G2) and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
Life Is Good, who increased his lifetime earnings to $2,814,000, appears poised for a huge four-year-old campaign.
Bred in Kentucky by Gary & Mary West, Life Is Good was purchased for $525,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September yearling sale. He’s the first stakes winner from the Distorted Humor mare Beach Walk, who is out of stakes winner and multiple Grade 1-placed Bonnie Blue Flag.
Life Is Good is expected to point toward the $12 million Dubai World Cup on March 26.
“He’s just a phenomenally talented horse,” Pletcher said. “We see it every day from him. Every time we breeze him, he’s extra special. He has that unique ability to go really fast and just keep going.”