The connections of Life Is Sweet, who unleashed a powerful stretch run to win the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I), have accepted an invitation to take on males including champion Gio Ponti in the $10-million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) at Meydan Racecourse.
Trainer John Shirreffs confirmed the plans on Monday, adding that he believes Life Is Sweet will handle both the World Cup’s 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4-mile) distance on the synthetic Tapeta track and the competition being assembled for the biggest prize in racing history.
"I don’t think the distance is an issue whatsoever, and the surface is in her favor, too," Shirreffs said. "Whoever is in the field, I think she’ll compare very well with them."
In addition to Gio Ponti, 2009 champion older male and turf male who finished just a length behind Life Is Sweet’s undefeated stablemate Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I), others aiming for the Dubai World Cup include racing’s all-time leading female earner, two-time Japanese Horse of the Year Vodka; French classic winner Vision d'Etat, who has won group I races in three countries; English Group 1 winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic third-place finisher Twice Over, and 2009 Pacific Classic Stakes (gr. I) winner Richard's Kid , who won the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II) in his 2010 debut.
A 5-year-old daughter of Storm Cat and a full sister to 2004 champion juvenile filly Sweet Catomine, Life Is Sweet worked six furlongs Feb. 26 at her Hollywood Park base in 1:12.60, the second fastest of 15 drills at the distance that day.
"She’s doing well—she worked very, very good," Shirreffs said.
Life Is Sweet has raced as far as 1 ¼ miles only once in her career, finishing third in last year’s Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), 7 3/4 lengths behind winner Rail Trip, after closing wide from next to last in the 13-horse field. That race also marked the only time she has competed against males.
In preparing for the World Cup, Shirreffs said he has been studying the races run during the Dubai International Racing Carnival that began when Meydan opened for its first season on January 28.
"It seems like if you come from off the pace, it’s an advantage," he said, noting the many come-from-behind winners, especially those who have made up significant ground in the late stages of races on the Tapeta track.
Although Life Is Sweet has not raced on Tapeta, she has made 10 of her 16 career starts on synthetic surfaces in California and Kentucky, winning four times and finishing second twice on those surfaces to achieve the greatest success of her career, including the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic win over Santa Anita Park’s Pro-Ride surface.
Overall, Life Is Sweet has won six races, including two grade I events and a pair of grade II contests, and has earned $1,820,810. In her most recent effort, she finished second to St Trinians after rallying off a slow pace in the Santa Maria Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita on February 13.
Marty Wygod, who bred and campaigns Life Is Sweet with his wife, Pam, chose the Dubai World Cup as Life Is Sweet’s target, Shirreffs said. Since Life is Sweet has competed over nine different racetracks from coast to coast in the United States and did a lot of traveling when she was two and three, Shirreffs said she should handle the long journey to Dubai well.
However, the trainer said he is not sure he will be making the trip himself.
The Wygods also are sending their homebred Storm Cat colt Courageous Cat , a grade II winner who was second in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I) to Dubai to compete in the $5-million Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I). Bill Mott trains Courageous Cat.