Showing no aftereffects from an unsuccessful jaunt to Dubai when last seen in March, Life Is Good waltzed to a five-length victory in the $232,500 John A. Nerud S. (G2) at Belmont Park on Saturday.
The 1-5 favorite field in a top-heavy field of four, Life Is Good was briefly challenged by Grade 1 winner Speaker’s Corner through the opening half-mile, but put away that rival in the stretch and coasted home under Flavien Prat.
Setting a pace of :22.19 and :44.70, Life Is Good sped seven furlongs in 1:21.70 over a fast track and paid $2.40 for owners WinStar Farm and CHC Inc. Speaker’s Corner finished second by 2 1/2 lengths over Repo Rocks, while Harvard trailed far behind throughout.
“You never take anything for granted. There’s only one outcome that was OK and that was for him to win,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I loved the way he galloped out. I’m just happy to get that win under our belt and hopefully move forward to the Whitney (G1) like we planned.”
The Nerud was the eighth win in 10 career starts for Life Is Good, whose wins last season included the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), Kelso H. (G2), San Felipe (G2), and Sham (G3). His only loss at three was by a neck to eventual champion sprinter Jackie’s Warrior in the H. Allen Jerkens (G1), his debut for Pletcher after being based in California with Bob Baffert.
Life Is Good handed 2021 Horse of the Year Knicks Go a 3 1/4-length defeat in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park in January, and then went favored in the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) on March 26. Attempting to lead all the way in the 1 1/4-mile test on a tiring surface, Life Is Good fell short by 2 1/4 lengths, finishing fourth behind the Baffert-trained Country Grammer. Life Is Good has now bankrolled $3,551,700.
By Into Mischief, the Kentucky-bred Life Is Good was produced by Beach Walk, a daughter of Distorted Humor and Grade 1-placed stakes winner Bonnie Blue Flag. The latter is a half-sister to Grade 1 scorer Diamondrella.
Bred by Gary and Mary West, Life Is Good sold for $525,000 as a Keeneland September yearling.