Life Is Good, Charge It top four-win day for Pletcher

July 4, 2022

ELMONT, N.Y. – Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher celebrated a four-win day on Saturday at Belmont Park, led by graded scores with Life Is Good in the Grade 2, $250,000 John A. Nerud and Charge It in the Grade 3, $250,000 Dwyer. The $2 million yearling purchase Capensis and the New York-bred Liam’s Map gelding Jerry the Nipper also visited the winner’s circle in races 5 and 10, respectively. 

“That was a nice day,” said Pletcher. 

Life Is Good made a triumphant return in his first start since an even fourth-place finish in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup where he made the lead but tired in the final two furlongs and faded to finish 2 1/4-lengths behind the victorious Country Grammer. 

His resounding five-length victory in the Nerud proved that the son of Into Mischief had not lost a step from his trip to Dubai, returning with the same gusto he showed throughout his sparkling sophomore campaign that was capped with a 5 3/4-length triumph in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Del Mar. 

Life Is Good broke well from post 1 under Flavien Prat and took command as Grade 1-winner Speaker’s Corner pressed a half-length to his outside. Life Is Good made easy work of the challenge and quickly separated from his foe as the field of four rounded the turn. He continued to widen his advantage down the lane with Speaker’s Corner unable to keep up and fading to second. Life Is Good completed the seven furlongs in 1:21.70 and was awarded a career-best 112 Beyer Speed Figure.

“He came back excellent,” said Pletcher. “We felt confident that he had maintained his form based on the way he had trained, but it’s nice to see him go over and live up to expectations.” 

Life Is Good ()

Now that Life Is Good has successfully vanquished one of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s heavyweights in Speaker’s Corner, he’ll likely face Mott’s other top older male, yesterday’s Grade 2 Stephen Foster winner Olympiad, should they both make their next outing in the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 6 at Saratoga. 

Pletcher said Life Is Good is ready for a potential matchup with Olympiad, who garnered a 111 Beyer for his Stephen Foster coup. 

“Olympiad is on quite a streak himself and you’d always expect the Whitney to be a difficult race, but we’re very pleased with the way that he [Life Is Good] is doing,” said Pletcher. 

Four races later, Whisper Hill Farm’s homebred Charge It lived up to his 3-5 favoritism in the Grade 3 Dwyer, winning the one-mile test for sophomores by a sublime 23 lengths in his first start since a 17th-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 7. 

The son of Tapit was held comfortably along the rail by Hall of Famer John Velazquez behind pacesetter Fluid Situation before angling to the outside and being asked for more in the turn. Charge It ate up ground with every stride and came away with a 10-length advantage at the stretch call before running a bit greenly down the lane and widening his margin to 23 lengths with one tap of the crop from Velazquez. The effort garnered a 111 Beyer – the highest number recorded by a 3-year-old this year – and was a major improvement from his previous career-best 93 that he earned for his runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Florida Derby in April. 

“That’s pretty crazy,” Pletcher said of the win margin. “We thought he would run well, and you never think of one winning by that type of margin, but he’s a colt that we’ve always been very high on and he’s always trained like a horse that was capable of great things. He’s starting to get a bit more maturity and seasoning now and I still think there’s room for improvement.” 

Mo Donegal’s brilliant win in the 2022 Belmont Derby. (NYRA/Coglianese)

Pletcher experienced the highs and lows of horse racing yesterday when his four wins came on the heels of the announcement that Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets winner Mo Donegal would miss the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers on August 27 at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup in November at Keeneland due to bone bruising. 

While Mo Donegal will not be representing the Pletcher barn in the Travers this year, Pletcher could still have a chance to capture the “Mid-Summer Derby” with Charge It. 

“That’s what we’re thinking and that’s the goal,” Pletcher said. “We’re very pleased with the way he ran, and I feel like as he matures, he’s trained like a horse that a mile and a quarter is within his range.” 

Saint Tapit breaking his maiden at Belmont in his first start last week. (NYRA/Coglianese)

Along with his already-established sophomore string, Pletcher has plenty to look forward to with recent 3-year-old maiden winners Saint Tapit and Capensis, who both posted eye-catching debut maiden wins this week at Belmont. Saint Tapit, out of 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, graduated over dirt last Sunday while Capensis was a sharp winner of yesterday’s fifth race, a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight over the inner turf course. 

Capensis, owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Robert LaPenta, Gainseway Stable, Winchell Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Thoroughbreds, was a $2 million purchase at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare Tara’s Tango. 

A grey son of Tapit, Capensis broke from post 4 under Jose Ortiz and rated in sixth-of-7 as Breakwater set the tempo over the firm turf. Ortiz swung Capensis three-wide through the turn and gave steady urging as his mount picked off his rivals and took the lead at the top of the stretch. He powered home under right-handed urging from Ortiz to post a five-length victory in a final time of 1:39.94. 

Pletcher said Capensis’ bullet breeze going a half-mile in 49.99 over Belmont’s inner turf on June 24 showed his proficiency for the lawn. 

“He really took to the turf when we breezed him on it, so we were expecting a good debut, but I thought that was very impressive,” Pletcher said. “He’ll probably go to an allowance race next. He’s kind of behind some of the other [sophomores], but hopefully he can make up ground quickly and make his way into a 3-year-old stake at some point.” 

In addition to his successes in the Empire State yesterday, Pletcher was represented at Churchill Downs by Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets winner Americanrevolution, who finished a game second to Olympiad in the Stephen Foster about an hour after Charge It took the Dwyer. 

A New York-bred son of Constitution, Americanrevolution raced in the middle of the seven-horse field down the backstretch under Luis Saez before launching his run at Olympiad in the stretch, battling on strongly to be defeated just 2 1/4 lengths by his accomplished rival. 

Pletcher praised Americanrevolution for his improvement from a fourth-place finish in the Blame in his 4-year-old debut on June 4 at Churchill. 

“He ran hard and kept trying to the wire and was second-best on the day,” said Pletcher. “But I think now with two races under his belt that he can make another move forward. He’s carrying the New York banner.” 

Pletcher said it is possible that Americanrevolution could have a rematch against Olympiad in the Whitney even if Life Is Good is also in the mix. 

“I’ll have to talk to the connections and see,” Pletcher said. “Life Is Good is pointing in that direction, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of running him also.”

Owned by CHC and WinStar Farm, Americanrevolution put together a stellar sophomore campaign last year with stakes wins at all four New York racetracks, capped by his Cigar Mile triumph over stablemate Following Sea in December at Aqueduct. 

NYRA Press Office
Photo by Todd Pletcher at the Belmont Stakes (Susie Raisher) 

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