June 12, 2024

Life Is Good ‘definitely’ will return in time for Breeders’ Cup

Life Is Good
Life is Good is off the derby trail after this work at Santa Anita Park (Horsephotos.com)

The morning after Life Is Good sustained an injury knocking him out of the Triple Crown, trainer Bob Baffert indicated that the erstwhile Kentucky Derby (G1) favorite would “definitely” make the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar.

Baffert made the comments in a Sunday morning interview on LA radio, and Santa Anita’s Mike Willman relayed them in the track’s barn notes.

“Every day as a trainer, there’s always a possibility of something like that happening,” the Hall of Famer said. “He couldn’t have worked more beautifully (six furlongs in a bullet 1:11.40). It was a great, nice cruising work like he usually does.

“He’s so light on his feet. He came back (to the barn), the rider said he felt great…

“Then all of a sudden later in the morning, you could tell something was bothering him in the (left) hind leg.

“He took a couple funny steps, so that’s when we realized he had done something to his hind leg.

“He’ll be fine, he’ll be back. It wasn’t anything serious but it’s enough that he’ll need some time off.

“We’re gonna send him back to Kentucky and run more tests on him…Everybody that I talked to, we’re talking 60 days, so that takes him out of everything.”

Asked about Life Is Good’s potential status for the Nov. 5-6 Breeders’ Cup, Baffert was unequivocal.

“He’ll be ready for that, definitely.”

In a subsequent Sunday update, Baffert told Millie Ball that Life Is Good would undergo surgery to remove an ankle chip:

Life Is Good was preparing for his final Kentucky Derby prep in the April 3 Santa Anita Derby (G1). His absence makes the $750,000 Santa Anita feature more attractive for other hopefuls, including Rombauer, who had been eyeing a trip to Aqueduct for the Wood Memorial (G2), also April 3.

Trainer Michael McCarthy told NYRA publicity Sunday that Rombauer was now likelier for Santa Anita.

“I’d say the Wood is a second choice,” McCarthy said. “We’re just going to monitor what’s happening out here. Both races are in play but I’m leaning more toward staying out here.”

Baffert still has a prime player for the Santa Anita Derby in Medina Spirit. Runner-up to Life Is Good in both the San Felipe (G2) and Sham (G3), Medina Spirit captured a thrilling Robert B. Lewis (G3) over Roman Centurian and Hot Rod Charlie, the next-out Louisiana Derby (G2) winner. Baffert could also pitch recent maiden winner Defunded into the Santa Anita Derby.

Arguably Baffert’s top chance at a record-breaking seventh Kentucky Derby, unbeaten Rebel (G2) romper Concert Tour, could raid Oaklawn Park again for the April 10 Arkansas Derby (G1). Stablemate Spielberg is set for Saturday’s Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, where he’ll meet Greatest Honour, Known Agenda, Nova Rags, and flashy maiden winner Collaborate.

The April 3 Blue Grass (G2) remains the port of call for Brad Cox’s unbeaten champion Essential Quality, while fellow Godolphin homebred Prevalence is in the mix for the Wood or Arkansas Derby for Brendan Walsh.