French-bred mare Live Life returns to action Saturday when she will carry high weight of 116 pounds in the $200,000 Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IIT) for older fillies and mares at 10 furlongs on the Santa Anita turf, a race that in recent seasons was dominated by Megahertz.
The stretch-running mighty mite Megahertz won her third straight Santa Barbara two years ago.
The 5-year-old Live Life, who will be ridden by Victor Espinoza, is cutting back to a grade II following four successive Grade I efforts. Her best finish was a third after setting the pace in the Beverly D (gr. IT) last August at Arlington Park. It was the only time Espinoza had ridden her previously.
Live Life began her career in her native country before being purchased by Shawn Dugan early last year and transferred to the Southern California barn of Neil Drysdale. Her career earnings are $221,825 from a 3-3-1 mark in 14 starts. She drew the rail among eight entrants in the Santa Barbara.
Trainer Sandy Shulman is hoping career win No. 800 comes in the Santa Barbara when the 70-year-old conditioner sends out Mabadi for long-time clients Ron Charles, Santa Anita's president, and the Clear Valley Stables of Shig Katayama .
The 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Sahm won her U.S. debut at 1 1/8 miles on grass on Feb. 14, then was second under similar conditions on March 29 after she was squeezed at the start.
“She was a little too close (to the pace) in that race. Maybe she should have been squeezed even more at the start,” Shulman said. “She has to be taken hold of and make one run, but she’s a nice filly. She can run.”
Shulman, a native of Pittsburgh, won his first race at Del Mar in 1982 with a filly named Teco Teco.
$200,000 Santa Barbar Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 7, 3:30 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 4 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Live Life (FR), 116, Victor Espinoza
2. Solva (GB), 115, Brice Blanc
3. Quick as Ray (BRZ), 113, Joseph Talamo
4. Flip Flop (FR), 114, Jose Valdivia, Jr.
5. Sweet Belle (KY), 113, Michael C. Baze
6. Mabadi (KY), 112, Aaron T. Gryder
7. Grat (KY), 113, Alex O. Solis
8. Naughty Rafaela (BRZ), 114, David R. Flores