Life is Good’s Derby Chances are Authentic

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Sunday, January 3, 2021

Is it too early to give LIFE IS GOOD the Kentucky Derby champion's hardware? It appears, trainer Bob Baffert might take his current three-year-old Derby contender down a similar path as he did with last year's Kentucky Derby Winner AUTHENTIC.

The white-haired trainer debuted AUTHENTIC and LIFE IS GOOD in November Del Mar starts. AUTHENTIC kicked off his career with a 5 ½ furlong score while LIFE IS GOOD made easy work of 6 ½ furlongs to start his racing career.

Baffert used the Grade III, Sham Stakes as the second start for both horses. AUTHENTIC and LIFE IS GOOD ran similar races in taking the Sham trophy and the 10 Kentucky Derby Qualifying points. Both jumped out to an early lead, held the lead and ran somewhat greenly in the stretch.

Last year, jockey Drayden Van Dyke had to pull up on AUTHNTIC in the stretch run as he almost appeared ready to jump the rail, before pulling away as he drifted wide in the stretch.

This year, jockey Mike Smith confidently held LIFE IS GOOD into the stretch and asked the son of INTO MISCHIEF for just a little more in the final strides as MEDINA SPIRIT tried to make things interesting at the wire. When asked for a little more by Smith to ward off the MEDINA SPIRIT semi-challenge, LIFE IS GOOD did like AUTHENTIC and drifted outward a little before settling. It's clear from watching the 2021 Sham Stakes, LIFE IS GOOD could have won going away if Mike Smith cracked the whip and asked his horse for its all. LIFE IS GOOD has plenty more than he showed on Saturday.

Baffert noticed the late race similarities saying in the Sham winners' circle, "it reminded me a lot of AUTHENTIC last year when he did the same thing and he looked like a drunk coming down. He almost hit the rail and stuff."

Of LIFE IS GOOD's Sham, Baffert went on, "to get the two-turns out of the way is big," adding, "It's exciting to pass the two-turn test." The trainer puts a lot of weight into LIFE IS GOOD's Sham effort, "I always feel like the second race is the most important. You are going up against winners. It's the kind of race we were looking for."

Let's looks at LIFE IS GOOD's Sham victory to see how it compares to the reigning Kentucky Derby Champion's run.

LIFE IS GOOD ran an Equibase Speed Figure of 112 compared to 113 for AUTHENTIC. The top two numbers in Sham history.

AUTHENTIC's Sham fractions were 23.87, 47.94, 1:12.18, 1:24.30 with a final time of 1:37.57

LIFE IS GOOD ran significantly faster at 23.56, 46.67, 1.10:66, 1.23:24 finishing in 1:36.63.

Despite the faster fractions, jockey Smith believes horseplayers haven't seen the best of LIFE IS GOOD. "He's just, very, very talented. We don't know yet how talented. We haven't even gotten close yet" is how Smith described his horse.

It might be a couple of months before we get to see more of LIFE IS GOOD's talent. If Baffert follows the AUTHENTIC plan, LIFE IS GOOD's next start is likely to be the Grade II, San Felipe Stakes on March 6, 2021.

It will be a chance for LIFE IS GOOD to add a little more distance and take on other highly regarded Derby hopefuls. If he wins the San Felipe, like AUTHENTIC, the next stop is likely the Kentucky Derby where he's likely to be one of the favorites to wear the roses.