Life Is Good arrives in Dubai for Meydan classic

The Pegasus World Cup Invitational winner among nine American horses that have landed in Dubai

By Leslie Wilson Jr

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Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr celebrates after riding Life Is Good to victory in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on November 6, 2021. (AFP)
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr celebrates after riding Life Is Good to victory in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on November 6, 2021. (AFP)

Published: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 12:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 12:51 PM

American-trained horses have an impressive record in the Dubai World Cup and its many supporting races, so it was not surprising when a contingent of nine horses arrived in Dubai on Wednesday to prepare for next Saturday’s big race meeting at Meydan.

Heading the contingent was Pegasus World Cup Invitational winner Life Is Good, the solid ante-post favourite to land the $12 million contest, and his stable companion Colonel Liam who is expected to be a big player in the $5 million Dubai Turf.

Before shipping out to Dubai, Life Is Good had his trainer Todd Pletcher, a seven-time Eclipse Award Winning-handler, waxing lyrical after delivering a bullet-like piece of work at Palm Beach Downs, South Florida.

“Dynamite, super,” was the reaction of Pletcher, who was North America’s All-Time Earnings Leader. “He’s such a terrific workhorse, but maybe the tail end of the gallop-out today was more impressive than some of the ones before. It was kind of a ‘wow’ breeze.”

Life Is Good was officially credited with a time of 1:00.22 secs during an easy five-furlong drill, his fifth since his 3 1/4-length victory over 2021 Horse of the Year, Knicks Go, in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup on January 29.

“Knock on wood, everything has gone according to plan,” Pletcher said in the Daily Racing Form, before revealing that it was the horse’s final fast work and that he would be asked to just gallop up to the World Cup on next Saturday.

With five horses, including Dubai World Cup second favourite Hot Rod Charlie already stabled in Dubai, it took the headcount for the American raiders to 15.

Colonel Liam, who is a leading contender for the $5 million Dubai Turf following the successful defense of his title in last month’s Pegasus World Cup Turf, also completed his final prep work, galloping five furlongs in 1:00.21 in company with Vindictive.

“He worked very well,” Pletcher said. “Everything has also gone smoothly for him since the Pegasus Turf.”

Another major player on the Dubai World Cup card is the Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Drain the Clock, which runs in the $2 million Golden Shaheen.

Drain the Clock, who was upset by Miles Ahead in the Gulfstream Park Sprint in his 2022 debut, breezed over four furlongs in a time of 47.04 secs. Drain the Clock is best remembered for his defeat of 2021 sprint champion Jackie’s Warrior in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens last spring at Belmont Park.

“He got beat last time but all the numbers say it was his best race yet,” said Joseph, who also pointed out that Drain the Clock is likely to be given a light blowout at Meydan before the Golden Shaheen.

The trip to Dubai is the first international travel for several of the American horses who have been campaigned only in the US.

Meanwhile, Country Grammer and Midnight Bourbon, who were second and third in the $20 million Saudi Cup, shipped into Dubai where they joined Hot Rod Charlie, who has been in Dubai since late January.

Hot Rod Charlie has already had the benefit of a prep race on February 4 at Meydan where he readily won the middle leg of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

Casa Creed, who was an impressive second in the 1351 Turf Sprint in Riyadh, is set to contest the $1.5 million Al Quoz Sprint over 1200 metres on turf.

The Mark Casse-trained Get Smokin, a recent runner-up in the Tampa Bay Stakes, is another American contender in the Al Quoz Sprint, a race that was won by Extravagant Kid last year.

Pinehurst, who is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, won the Saudi Derby and is now being aimed at the $1 million UAE Derby. He is joined by another American horse Gilded Age.

Joining Drain the Clock in the Golden Shaheen are Dr. Schivel and Wondrwherecraigis, with the former being California-based trainer Mark Glatt’s first Dubai runner.

Dr. Schivel was beaten by a nose in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has dispatched two American runners for the $1 million Godolphin Mile, Bankit and Snapper Sinclair, with the latter back for a second shot at the dirt contest, having finished fourth in the 2021 running of the race.

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