This from Santa Anita

By Mile Willman/Santa Anita

Sent from his outside post position, heavily favored Life Is Good was running easily throughout but survived a mild scare late from stablemate Medina Spirit to prevail by three quarters of a length in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Sham Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., thus stamping his ticket for the early trail to the Kentucky Derby on May 1 at Churchill Downs.

Trained by Bob Baffert, who won last year’s Sham with eventual Derby winner Authentic, Life Is Good, a striking bay colt by Into Mischief, got a flat mile in 1:36.63 and despite the fact the winning margin was evaporating late, held sway on the gallop-out around the Club House turn as he seemed to re-focus while not letting Medina Spirit pass him at any point.

“It was his first time around two turns,” said Smith, who had been aboard for a sensational 9 ½ length maiden win going 6 ½ furlongs on Nov. 22 at Del Mar.  “He got away just a little slow, but he got up and of course he’s naturally so quick, he was just up underneath himself.  Just as we were heading for home, he was doing things all by himself so easy out there.

“He didn’t know what he was doing going twice around, and he just got the lead and was looking out at the Infield on the big screen.  He could see himself, and he got to looking, but I was watching as well so I saw the horse coming on the outside.  I didn’t want to panic, I just showed it (the stick) to him a little bit.  What I liked really was after the race, when I stood up and the (other) horse got next to me, he jumped back in the bridle and I mean I had to pull him up.

“He’s just very, very talented.  We don’t know yet how talented.  We haven’t gotten close yet.”

Off at 1-5 in a field of five sophomores, Life Is Good paid $2.40, $2.10 and $2.10.

“Medina is a nice horse, he’s a good horse and I could tell that Mike was just cruising out there,” said Baffert, who has now won a record seven Sham Stakes.  “I always feel that the second race is most important.  You’re going up against winners.  I think Mike did a great job, just sort of cruising out there and it was just the kind of race we were looking for.  They ran pretty fast…It is so exciting he passed the two turn test.”

Owned by CHC Inc. and Winstar Farm, Life Is Good, who was bred in Kentucky by Gary and Mary West and is out of the Distorted Humor mare Beach Walk, picked up 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, along with $60,000 for the win, which increased his earnings to $94,200.

Medina Spirit, who broke his maiden first time out going 5 ½ furlongs at Los Alamitos, sat second the entire trip and finished some 13 lengths clear of Parnelli.  Ridden by Abel Cedillo, Medina Spirit was off at 9-1 and paid $3.60 and $2.20.

The second choice at 9-2 with Drayden Van Dyke, Parnelli paid $2.10 to show.

Fractions on the race were 23.56, 46.67, 1:10.66 and 1:23.24.

Medina Spirit picked up four Derby qualifying points, Parnelli two and fourth place finisher Waspirant will receive one point.

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