LIFE IS GOOD is the Dominant Sham Stakes Choice

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, January 2, 2021

Hopefully, this year's run for the roses will stay on course after 2020's COVID detour. CAPO KANE put his name in the mix, collecting 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in yesterday's Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Another will earn 10 points today in the $100,000, Grade III Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. A skinny field of five will race 1 mile on the world's most beautiful course's main track. The distance and surface favors fast horses.

Nineteen of the 21 races during the fall meet were won by early speed types with the average winner racing second at the quarter pole on first or second at the half-mile marker. Eight of the 21 won wire to wire. Post position is key as gates two and three won 10 of the 21 with the rail scoring at just 5%.

PARNELLI (PP: 3 ML 5/2) seems to have all the right ingredients to get those 10 Kentucky Derby points. The half-a-million-dollar horse gets one of the coveted draws and has history of getting off to a hot start. He popped to the lead in his first three but faded a touch at then end before breaking his maiden last out, stalking the leaders.

Jockey Umberto Rispoli will likely try to run the same race with PARNELLI as two horses are likely to get out to the front. MEDINA SPIRIT (PP: 1 ML 6-1) has inside speed, winning his debut on the front. The quick, early first turn should give trainer Bob Baffert's horse the early edge on the field. He is going to need to run faster fractions then he did in his debut to keep Baffert's other horse, super-chalk LIFE IS GOOD (PP: 5 ML 2/5) from taking command.

The heavy favorite was also the big-time choice of horseplayers in his debut, going off a 1/5. And he won like a $0.20 favorite, starting off with speed, crushing the field while being ridden out. The son on INTO MISCHIEF did something you don't see too often, debuting with a triple digit speed figure. If LIFE IS GOOD improves, as many horses do in their second career starts, he could make easy work of this group too.

In the short field, the pair of Baffert frontrunners and PARNELLI are likely to run in some order of one, two and three. LIFE IS GOOD will probably race alongside his stable mate MEDINA SPIRIT for the first half-mile or so before turning on the jets. PARNELLI trails the leading duo and tries to make his move to keep pace with the chalk.

PARNELLIC nudges past the rail horse coming out of the turn and tries to make up ground on the frontrunning favorite as MEDINA SPIRIT hustles but the gap between him and the leading duo widens. With about a 1/16 mile left, UNCLE BOOGIE (PP: 4 ML 12-1) makes a late run to try and finish in the money. Meanwhile, WASPIRANT (PP: 2 ML 15-1) trails and has no chance.

LIFE IS GOOD lives up to his pre-race odds once again, taking another checkered flag without much of a challenge, collecting his 10 Kentucky Derby points as the road to the Derby picks up speed in 2021.


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