November 7, 2009

Life Certainly Is Sweet

You have to feel for Life Is Sweet. The 4-year-old Storm Cat filly entered the Ladies Classic on a four race losing streak that followed dominant wins in the El Encino, La Canada, and Santa Margarita to begin the year. Her connections were not afraid to race their filly against the best, as one of the four consecutive losses came in the Hollywood Gold Cup where she finished 3rd in a field of 13, against a field of top older handicap males of California. The other three losses were at the hands of the undefeated super mare, Zenyatta. Making the situation more unfortunate is that Zenyatta is her stablemate, both horses being conditioned by John Shirreffs. This is comparable to being the 2nd best tennis player in the state, with the best player being in your own high school, or to put it into horse terms, being Riva Ridge and barnmates with Secretariat. While they are owned by different people, she could never be the star in her own barn. All that would change as Life is Sweet finally had her day in the sun yesterday taking full advantage of her biggest stage.

In a dazzling display of stretch running power, Life Is Sweet circled the entire field on the far turn and drew off easily to win by 2 1/2 lengths and became the star of Ladies Day at the Breeders’ Cup. With Careless Jewel setting suicidal early fractions, Life Is Sweet and her rider Garrett Gomez were more than content to bide their time at the back of the pack. As Careless Jewel began to succumb, from her early sprint, Life Is Sweet began to uncoil her rush. The result of the race would be quickly decided as no one else could keep pace and Life Is Sweet rolled home an easy winner. Longshot Mushka put in a nice late bid to finish 2nd, but on this day it was all about Life Is Sweet. Final time for the 9 furlongs on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride main track was 1:48.58. Her freight train like rally, coming from last and spinning out of the turn widest of all, was reminiscent of another California mare…I don’t think I need to mention her name.

Leading up to the BC, little attention was paid to the full sister of 2004 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner and champion Sweet Catomine. Instead all eyes were on the mighty Zenyatta, who runs today in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, where she will take on the boys and attempt to become the first female winner ever. Life Is Sweet meanwhile was coming in off those four losses and was the forgotten horse. The credit she was given for her impressive victories in January through March was long forgotten in our ‘what have you done for me lately’ world. I give her credit though for her continuously trying to beat the best throughout her challenging campaign. In fact, owner Martin Wygod was very disappointed before the race that he would not get one more chance at Zenyatta. I wonder if that disappointment was abated at all with yesterday’s result?

Without the presence of her big stablemate, Zenyatta and the likely Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra, the field for the Ladies Classic seemed to come up a little flat in the minds of many. The performance of one horse, however, was not. The Ladies Classic was Life Is Sweet’s sixth win from 15 lifetime starts and she picked a most opportune to time to run the race of her life. With her dominating win yesterday, Life Is Sweet clearly stamped herself as the premier older filly in the nation, except for that other Shirreffs’ horse. It was a memorable performance that should not be forgotten. She may never be Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta, but what she is, certainly is sweet.


ja.raymond said...

That's right.. make me feel bad for picking Careless!! I should have been looking at the fact that Life had gotten so used to running against Zen that anything else without Zen would be child's play!

Brian Zipse said...

Don't feel bad Jane, yours truly also had Careless Jewel. You may be right, Life Is Sweet found an easier spot yesterday in, of all places, the Breeders' Cup.

Jennifer Cook said...

Beautiful column!

LDP said...

Nice post Brian. With the win of LIS in the L. Classic and Zenyatta in the Classic i'm betting life is really sweet for John Shirreffs right about now.

Maribel said...

It was a true joy to watch her brought smiles and a little chuckle wondering if Zen had in fact given some instruction to her stablemate !?? She was certainly a surprise highlight of BC 2009.