ARCADIA, Calif. —Two of Bob Baffert’s four Triple Crown contenders worked at Santa Anita Monday morning, undefeated Sham Stakes winner Life Is Good going five furlongs in 1:00.80, breezing, for the Grade II San Felipe Stakes, while stablemate Freedom Fighter went four furlongs in 48.60.
A son of Violence, Baffert said Freedom Fighter will make his next start in the Grade III Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct under Manny Franco. Freedom Fighter was runner-up in the San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 6 to stablemate Concert Tour.
Both the San Felipe and the Gotham will be run on March 6.
“He went extremely well,” Baffert said of Life Is Good, a son of Into Mischief owned by China Horse Club and WinStar Farm.
Baffert also was pleased with Freedom Fighter, who stretches out from the seven-furlong San Vicente to the one-turn mile of the Gotham which, like the San Felipe, offers 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner and 20, 10, five to the horses finishing second through fourth.
Baffert also worked Eclipse Award champion female sprinter Gamine “an easy half” this morning in 50.20.
Baltas has at least two for Buena Vista
Going to Vegas, second-best at nearly 15-1 going a mile and an eighth in the Grade I American Oaks last Dec. 26, returns to a distance she has run nine times in Saturday’s Grade II Buena Vista Stakes.
That would be one mile, which she has won at three times with three seconds and two thirds,
Richard Baltas, however, isn’t convinced the four-year-old Goldencents filly can’t succeed beyond eight furlongs.
“I don’t know what her (best) distance is,” the trainer said. “I think a long distance is very good for her as well, but her numbers are pretty good going a mile, too.”
In addition to Going to Vegas, Baltas also has Applecross, Ippodamia’s Girl, Nasty and Sassyserb nominated to the Buena Vista, but only Nasty is likely to join Going to Vegas.
“She’s got a lot of speed; she’s a nice filly,” Baltas said of four-year-old daughter of Street Sense, who led throughout and lasted to win by a head against straight three-year-olds in the restricted Lady of Shamrock at a mile on turf last Dec. 26.
“She’ll be running against older horses in the Buena Vista, so hopefully she can make the step up.”
Baltas won the 2016 Buena Vista with Paulina’s Love who was ridden by Gary Stevens.
Bella Vista smitten with Spring Fever
Bella Vista returns after an absence of more than nine months in Sunday’s $100,000 Spring Fever Stakes for fillies and mares four and up at six furlongs. It is one in the lucrative California’s Golden State Series.
A versatile daughter of 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern, Bella Vista was second by a half-length in the Evening Jewel Stakes in her main track debut last May 16 and will be making her first start since that race in the Spring Fever. Her first three races were on turf.
“She can handle both surfaces pretty well,” said Simon Callaghan, who trains the four-year bay filly for owner Kaleem Shah.
With her previous rider Umberto Rispoli riding in the Middle East, Flavien Prat returns to pilot Bella Vista in the Spring Fever.
Big ‘Cap Day overnight purses boosted by $15,000
Santa Anita Park and Del Mar Thoroughbred Club have joined forces to create the $1 Million Wild West Bonus providing $1 million in additional money to winning connections of any horse that sweeps three of Southern California’s most prestigious Grade I races, the $400,000 Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, the $300,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (at Santa Anita) on May 31 and the $750,000 TVG Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 21.
Including the $1 million bonus, any horse sweeping these three races would bank a total of $1,870,000.
All three races are run at the North American classic distance of a mile and a quarter.
Santa Anita has also increased the purses of the China Doll Stakes to be run March 6 from $75,000 to $100,000. Additionally, Santa Anita will raise purses on all overnight races on Big ‘Cap Day by $15,000 per race in an effort to ensure big fields and reward owners and trainers who continue to support Santa Anita on its most significant programs.
For additional information on the $1 Million Wild West Bonus, call Santa Anita’s Racing Office at 626 574-6352.
FINISH LINES: With four wins yesterday that included victory in the Grade III Sweet Life Stakes aboard Going Global, Flavien Prat drew even with Umberto Rispoli atop the rider standings with 27 wins through 24 racing days. Additionally, Prat, with 995 North American wins, is now five away from 1,000 for his career and he’s named on six horses today…Eclipse Award winner Storm the Court worked four furlongs in a bullet 47.40 this morning for trainer Peter Eurton, who won two races Sunday. It was the fastest of 66 drills at the distance. Multiple California-bred sprint stakes winner Fashionably Fast also fired a bullet, going six furlongs in 1:13 flat for Dean Pederson. In all there were 137 recorded workouts Monday, 23 on the training track…Santa Anita will be dark Tuesday through Thursday. Live racing resumes 12:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19.
Photo: Life Is Good (Benoit)