|ESPN.com: BreedersCup09||[Print without images]|
ARCADIA, Calif. -- Life Is Sweet had raced in the long shadow cast by her stablemate Zenyatta for much of 2009. Zenyatta had won the $2 million Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic last year, but the decision to run Zenyatta on Saturday against males in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic allowed Life Is Sweet to emerge from that shadow. She rallied from last in the field of eight to win the Ladies' Classic, which capped the first of two days of racing for the 26th Breeders' Cup in front of a crowd of 37,651 on Friday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.
Life Is Sweet ($18.20) was given a patient ride by Garrett Gomez, who paid no attention to the wicked fractions set by front-runner Careless Jewel, the 9-5 favorite. Life Is Sweet swooped the field while widest coming off the turn and drew off to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Mushka finished second, one length in front of third-place Music Note.
Proviso, Rainbow View, Cocoa Beach, Lethal Heat, and Careless Jewel completed the order of finish.
Careless Jewel faded to last -- beaten by 18 1/2 lengths -- after setting fractions of 23.50 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 45.78 for a half-mile and 1:09.74 for six furlongs. She was quite agitated coming on the track for the post parade, which has been a habit in the past.
Life Is Sweet completed 1 1/8 miles on Pro-Ride in 1:48.58.
"She's a very good filly, and I'm glad everybody got to see that today," said John Shirreffs, who trains Life Is Sweet and Zenyatta. Life Is Sweet, 4, was bred and is owned by Marty and Pam Wygod. The Wygods also bred and owned Life Is Sweet's full sister, Sweet Catomine, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 2004 at Lone Star Park. Both are by Storm Cat and are out of the Kris S. mare Sweet Life.
Life Is Sweet won for the sixth time in 15 starts. She has been particularly effective at Santa Anita, where she is 4 for 5, her only loss coming when she ran fourth to Zenyatta in last month's Lady's Secret Stakes.
Life Is Sweet was turned over to Shirreffs toward the end of last year after first racing on the East Coast with trainer Bill Mott. She began this year with three straight victories in stakes races at Santa Anita: the El Encino, La Canada, and Santa Margarita.
But then Life Is Sweet lost her next four starts, three when meeting Zenyatta, the other when facing males in the Hollywood Gold Cup, in which she finished a good third.
Asked if the victory by Life Is Sweet boded well for Zenyatta in the Classic, Shirreffs refused to compare the two, putting Zenyatta on her own pedestal.
"Zenyatta," he said, "is Zenyatta."