Life Is Good kicks off 2021 with Sham S. (G3) victory

January 2, 2021

Life Is Good and jockey Mike Smith win the Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes, Saturday, January 2, 2021 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA.
© BENOIT PHOTO

Life Is Good began 2021 in stellar fashion Saturday for Into Mischief with a victory in the $100,000 Sham S. (G3) at Santa Anita Park, defeating stablemate Medina Spirit by three-quarters of a length in the track’s first Kentucky Derby prep of 2021.

Into Mischief wrapped up 2020 with his second straight year as North America’s leading sire. His record-breaking year finished with progeny earnings of $22.5 million, nearly $10 million more than any other sire, and a remarkable 29 black type winners.

Three-year-old Life Is Good was making his stakes and two-turn debut after a dominating Nov. 22 maiden win at first asking at Del Mar, when he was named a TDN Rising Star.

As he did in the maiden win, Life Is Good was intent on getting the lead early and did so despite going very wide into the first turn. He was up three lengths after a half-mile and increased the margin to four at the top of the stretch. Ridden without urging by Mike Smith, Life Is Good held off the late charge of Medina Spirit to stop the timer in 1:36.63 on a fast main track.

“Medina is a nice horse, he’s a good horse and I could tell that Mike (Smith, on Life Is Good) was just cruising out there,” said trainer Bob Baffert, who won the Sham for the seventh time, including last year with Spendthrift Farm’s eventual Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Authentic. “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.”

Saturday’s win earned Life Is Good 10 qualifying points toward the 2021 Kentucky Derby (G1).

Baffert said the next start is to be determined for the 3-year-old colt, who has now earned $94,200 in his two victories. Life Is Good, out of Beach Walk, was bred in Kentucky by Gary and Mary West and sold for $525,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling sale.