In this Derby Profile edition, we look at LIFE IS GOOD — the freakishly-talented son of INTO MISCHIEF, who sits at the top of the leaderboard with GREATEST HONOUR. Both have 60 points a piece, but LIFE IS GOOD is the current Kentucky Derby favorite at 3-1. LIFE IS GOOD is 3-for-3, untested and unchallenged. What's more, he hails from the barn of a trainer who has had phenomenal success with the Triple Crown series: Bob Baffert. In this discussion, we want to investigate if LIFE IS GOOD is the deserving favorite, and if he can win the Run for the Roses with his killer speed.
On paper, there's hardly much to dislike. He is undefeated and wins by open lengths. He's won against tough fields, under sharp times. If we look at the San Felipe Stakes (G2) victory, he trounced California's most accomplished three-year-olds on the Derby trail. And in doing so, he ran the fastest time for a one mile and one-sixteenth race out of all the Derby hopefuls — save for ESSENTIAL QUALITY who tied his 1:42 final time back in November with his BC Juvenile win. But LIFE IS GOOD ran his 1:42 time without feeling the whip. And the San Felipe field, on paper, was rated tougher than anything GREATEST HONOUR and ESSENTIAL QUALITY has faced so far. How do you knock LIFE IS GOOD? You don't. But we ought to scrutinize how he's looked visually. At least, if were to crown him our deserving Kentucky Derby favorite.
The most recent concern with LIFE IS GOOD was his drifting antics in his last race. In the final half furlong, he veered to the opposite side of the track, despite winning by eight lengths. He ran green, no doubt. His rider Mike Smith commented that LIFE IS GOOD was looking at the big screen, which explained the lack of focus. But perhaps it's because he wasn't fully extended and roused to work, that he had the freedom to be distracted. Well, if he gains the experience of racing eye to eye and engaging a horse for battle, maybe the drifting never rears its head again. It would be productive to see LIFE IS GOOD test his mettle in the Santa Anita Derby; to at least scratch the surface of his ability so it's available on the big stage in May. But aside from the drifting, he looked incredible.
When we glance at LIFE IS GOOD's pedigree, we see he is the son of INTO MISCHIEF out of BEACH WALK by DISTORTED HUMOR. Can he endure the Kentucky Derby? Well, the one mile and one-quarter distance falls on the high side of what he's bred to prefer. He'll have to stretch his speed for an extra quarter of a mile. Whether he can go the Preakness (G1) and Belmont (G1) distances is a whole different issue. Nevertheless, we might find some solace in the fact that INTO MISCHIEF sired last year's Kentucky Derby winner AUTHENTIC. In LIFE IS GOOD's case, the classic distance isn't too big of an asking — provided he isn't compromised by a bad trip.
How does LIFE IS GOOD fare against stablemate CONCERT TOUR in the Kentucky Derby?
We just saw CONCERT TOUR deliver an impressive win in the Rebel Stakes (G2) going gate to wire under Joel Rosario. CONCERT TOUR has good early speed. He's blinkered and will mean business from the get-go. The unfortunate scenario for team Baffert is if his two colts cook each other over a hot pace on the front end because neither of them relaxed. Fortunately, CONCERT TOUR has demonstrated he doesn't need the lead; he can sit off the pace, as he did winning the San Vicente Stakes (G2) going shorter.
If LIFE IS GOOD proves to be a need-the-lead type horse, then his post position draw in the Kentucky Derby will be critical. It won't be a secret among the other jockeys what his game plan will be. It's just a question of who will implore their horse to rise to the challenge and press him early?
Let's say LIFE IS GOOD draws an outside post. He'll have to hustle hard to make the lead. And if he's headstrong from the start of the race, and pressed by other speed horses into the bargain, we'd better hope he'll have enough in the tank to hold off the closers.
But first things first, we must let LIFE IS GOOD continue his story. He's preparing for a start in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 3rd. He's only a probable as of now; he might instead simply train up to the Derby. He hasn't posted a workout since his San Felipe score. If he points to the Santa Anita Derby, he'll dance with DREAM SHAKE and MEDINA SPIRIT once again. DREAM SHAKE will be one to take a good look at. In his last start, he turned in a good effort given what he was tasked with. It was only his second start from his maiden score and needed to stretch out, step up in company, and run down the current Kentucky Derby favorite who got away with an uncontested lead. Yet DREAM SHAKE finished with gusto, battling with MEDINA SPIRIT all the way to the wire for his place on the board.
MEDINA SPIRIT would also be rematching with LIFE IS GOOD, but for a third time. LIFE IS GOOD probably has him measured, but what if Bob Baffert decides to throw blinkers back on MEDINA SPIRIT? Such an equipment change could make things really interesting, especially with Baffert's success rate with the equipment upgrade. We'll take a closer look at MEDINA SPIRIT when it's his turn on the Derby Profile.
At this point, LIFE IS GOOD has shown just one dimension, and is lightly raced. Whether that makes him a deserving favorite for the Kentucky Derby is up for debate. There will be perhaps 16 or 17 or more horses lined up against him in May. If just one of them decides to apply pressure from the start, palms will sweat! LIFE IS GOOD has not had to race with a horse breathing down his neck yet. And it's not his fault no horse has been able to keep up. But this makes the Santa Anita Derby such an anticipated race in the sense of discovering versatility from our superstar in question. We'll have to revisit the conversation as the Santa Anita Derby field builds up. Stay tuned!