Pam and Martin Wygod’s locally-based Life is Sweet rallied from last on the far turn, engulfed the field in the stretch, and drew away to a 2 1/2-length victory in the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) (VIDEO) Nov. 6 at Santa Anita Park.
Life is Sweet, who raced well several times against the undefeated Zenyatta this year, gave regular rider Garrett Gomez his first win of the day. Life is Sweet is trained by John Shirreffs, who also trains Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) entrant Zenyatta.
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With Zenyatta taking a pass on the Ladies Classic, which she won last year, Life is Sweet stepped out of the shadows of her stablemate and gave Shirreffs back-to-back Ladies Classic victories.
“I’m just so happy for Life is Sweet,” Shirreffs said. “She’s such a nice filly. She ran so great early in the year. I was glad she was able to get it done today. She really deserves this. She had been coming into this race really great.”
“I was a little disappointed the way she left the gate,” said Gomez, who had ridden Life is Sweet in her previous seven starts. “She was a little antsy today; she halfway hopped when she left the gate and she got pinched a little bit. She has been wanting just to drop back and not help me at all; she has been just completely off the bridle.
“John (Shirreffs) told me today he thought she was back to her old self, and when I got around the first turn and she kind of grabbed me I said, ‘You know, I think he’s right.’ She grabbed a hold of me and I had to slow her down a little bit, just like I did this spring. She traveled exactly the same.
“She has had some tough races. Her campaign this summer was very difficult. She had to run against Zenyatta a couple times. She ran against the boys once. When you run some tough races like she did, it will take something out of you. I'm glad they were able to get her confidence back and have her prepared for today.”
The Ladies Classic was the final Breeders’ Cup race of the first day of the World Championships. Santa Anita reported more than 37,000 people in attendance for the Friday program.
The Ladies Classic, at 1 1/8 miles, began as expected with favored Careless Jewel grabbing the early lead soon after the start. Careless Jewel got the opening quarter-mile in :23.50, then accelerated and opened up by nine lengths as the field headed up the backstretch.
Jockey Robert Landry didn’t appear to be asking Careless Jewel as she went :45.78 for the half-mile and 1:09.74 for six furlongs, but on the far turn, foes began to catch up to her. The field bunched up at the top of the lane, and Life is Sweet, on the far outside, appeared to have the race won at that point.
The final time, after a mile in 1:35.88, was 1:48.58, well off the track record set by Go Between in January 2008. Mushka rallied for second, while Music Note found room between horses to capture third. Careless Jewel faltered to finish last in the eight-horse field.
“At the quarter-pole, she felt like a winner,” jockey Kent Desormeaux said of Mushka. “She cornered like she couldn’t lose, but the winner came and got me.”
Landry said Careless Jewel wasn’t herself.
“At the first quarter she was going OK, but then she locked on to the bridle and went as far as she could as fast as she could. That’s not her. Normally, she’ll just relax. It’s disappointing because she is a much better filly than she showed today. That’s for sure. She’s a great filly. She’ll be back, and she’ll be bigger and stronger.”
Life is Sweet paid $18.20, $8, and $5 for her fourth win in eight starts this year. Life is Sweet, a 4-year-old Kentucky homebred by Storm Cat out of the Kris S. mare Sweet Life, won three consecutive graded stakes on the Santa Anita Pro-Ride synthetic surface in 2008.
The $1 exacta (2-3) with Mushka returned $85.80 and the $1 trifecta (2-3-7) with Music Note was worth $523.60.
Life is Sweet is a full sister to Sweet Catomine, who won the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies for the Wygods and was named champion 2-year-old filly that year.