Ain’t Life Grand works at Keeneland Oct. 15, 2022 (Coady Photography)
By Robert Yates – Oaklawn Barn Notes
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— Iowa-bred star Ain’t Life Grand is close to returning to the work tab at Oaklawn, trainer Kelly Von Hemel said Friday morning.
A 4-year-old son of Not This Time, Ain’t Life Grand hasn’t started since a 13 ¼-length victory in the $100,000 Iowa Breeders’ Derby for 3-year-old state-bred colts and geldings at 1 1/16 miles Oct. 1 at Prairie Meadows. Ain’t Life Grand was then scheduled to test open company again in the $350,000 Fayette Stakes (G2) at 1 1/8 miles Oct. 29 at Keeneland, but those plans were shelved because of an illness, Von Hemel said.
“Sure want to run him here,” Von Hemel said. “Don’t have anything pinpointed at this time. We’ll see how he comes along, how fast he comes along.”
Ain’t Life Grand made his 3-year-old debut last April at Oaklawn, finishing fourth in the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes at 6 furlongs. He returned to Prairie Meadows to capture two July stakes, including one in open company, the $300,000 Iowa Derby at 1 1/16 miles. Those performances propelled Ain’t Life Grand into the prestigious $1.25 million Travers Stakes (G1) for 3-year-olds at 1 ¼ miles last August at Saratoga, where he finished seventh.
“He was on his game back then,” Von Hemel said. “That’s why we took a shot.”
Von Hemel said one major 2023 target for Ain’t Life Grand is the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3) this summer at Prairie Meadows.
Ain’t Life Grand was named the Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders & Owners Association champion 2-year-old colt or gelding and 3-year-old colt or gelding. Overall, Ain’t Life Grand has a 6-0-2 record from 10-lifetime starts and earnings of $489,283. He is a five-time stakes winner.