Life Is Good Could Take In
The Saudi Cup After Pegasus
Todd Pletcher considering four horses for the world's most valuable race
Life Is Good winner of the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile under Irad Ortiz Jr - Credit: Focus On Racing
Life Is Good, a horse Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher describes as having “unlimited potential”, is on track for an epic battle with Knicks Go in the Pegasus World Cup next month, before connections consider a possible bid for the $20million Saudi Cup.
Pletcher, who has had a phenomenal 2021, has identified four potential contenders for the world’s most valuable race on Saturday 26 February, any of which would become his first runners in Saudi Arabia.
The 54-year-old Texas-born trainer has been delighted with Life Is Good since his jaw-dropping 5¾ length win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Del Mar last month: “He’s in great form and is training superbly like he always does. We’re targeting the Pegasus right now and keeping an eye on both Saudi and Dubai,” said Pletcher.
“We were very impressed [with his Breeders’ Cup win], he threw it down from the beginning and ran some super-fast fractions. Everything he has done has always indicated that more distance will not be a problem.”
Knicks Go, who finished fourth in this year’s Saudi Cup, will bid to end his career on a high by defending his Pegasus World Cup crown at Gulfstream Park next month after an impressive win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last time. Pletcher is clearly looking forward to the battle in Florida.
He said: “They are two horses with the same racing style, it really should be a thriller. We hope we come into it in good form and let our horse do his thing.”
The Saudi Cup would represent a different challenge for Life Is Good as a one-turn mile and an eighth (1800m) contest, but that doesn’t seem to worry Pletcher.
“It’s a challenging race, we know that, but he ran very well in the Kelso at Belmont over a mile (1600m), so it should suit him fine,” he said. “We don’t see the extra distance being a problem. The Pegasus is the plan, we can then make a decision after that.”
Happy Saver, a three-time winner at Belmont Park over a variety of distances, was a close second to Maxfield in the Grade 1 Clark Stakes at Churchill Downs last month and is another who could take in the Pegasus before potentially flying to Saudi.
“He just missed in the Clark, but he regained his best form and it was a big effort,” said Pletcher. “We’re keeping an eye on the Pegasus for him and he’ll be nominated for Saudi. He’s a versatile horse, as he showed when winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont which isn’t a true two-turn race.”
Dr Post was well beaten in the Clark Stakes last time but is another who could follow a similar route.
“We’ll nominate him for Saudi as well. We were a little disappointed in his Clark effort, he just didn’t seem to handle the surface that day,” said Pletcher. “It was a hard track to make up ground, but he was second to Tiz The Law in the 2020 Belmont Stakes and we think the set up in Saudi would suit him.”
“The Pegasus is also an option for him. We’ll just see how it plays out, how everyone trains and keep our options open.”
The final horse Pletcher is considering for The Saudi Cup, for which entries close on 5 January 2022, is Fearless who won the Grade 3 Holiday Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
“He was an impressive winner at the weekend. He hasn’t run in a Grade 1 yet, so he may not get invited, but he’s always been a solid horse and we’re trying to break through to the top level.”
While a runner in The Saudi Cup would be a first for Pletcher, he is clearly giving it careful consideration. He said: “It depends on the individual horse. Life Is Good has had some time off which helps. It’s great to have these opportunities, it’s proven to be a very attractive race.”
About The Saudi Cup
||Organised by the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia and run at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, The Saudi Cup is a two-day festival of international racing headlined by the USD$20m Saudi Cup – the world’s most valuable race.
Established in 2020 with the third renewal set to be run on Saturday February 26, 2022, The Saudi Cup day card carries a total prize purse of $30.5m and features dirt and turf races for the highest calibre of racehorses in the world.
A full card of racing on the preceding Friday includes an International Jockeys Challenge which sees seven female and seven male jockeys compete as individuals as well as the $500,000 Saudi International Handicap for horses trained in IFHA-registered Part II and III racing countries.
The Saudi Cup is charged with raising awareness of horse racing in the country, encouraging participation among men and women. It also aims to promote Saudi Arabia at international level, acting as a marker for the Kingdom’s transformational journey, encouraging tourism and investment.
Source: The Saudi Cup/Media