Pegasus World Cup (Grade 1)

THE big clash of two of the best horses in the US failed to materialise as anticipated in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup last Saturday when the World’s Best Racehorse and likely 2021 US Horse of the Year, Knicks Go, failed to sparkle as he had through the last year.

That left the way clear for his big rival, Life Is Good, who actually went off favourite, to romp away in an impressive success under Irad Ortiz.

Breaking from stall one on the rail, Knicks Go didn’t go forward as he had for most of his wins and was soon relegated to third behind horses as Life Is Good went to the lead from stall four. Moved outside, he raced in third but Life Is Good had sprinted to a clear lead on the first turn, held that lead by at least three lengths throughout and then romped home three and three-quarter lengths ahead as Knicks Go just held off outsider Stilleto Boy by a length for second.

Life Is Good, a son of Into Mischief, led by over three lengths after a half mile in 46.35secs, and he crossed the finish line in 1m 48.91sec. He earned his biggest Beyer Speed Figure with a 110.

“I can’t think of a horse better than him. He’s extra special. He has that unique ability to go fast and just keep going,” said trainer Todd Pletcher of his dominant winner. “Today he was too fast and too good. It’s a really special quality and it’s fun to watch.”

Life Is Good has six wins from seven despite being absent from mid-March to August due to an ankle chip last season.

“We’ve seen him train in the morning and he never gets tired, so when he was as far in front as he was, we knew he was not going to stop,” said Elliott Walden, racing manager of WinStar Farm.

“He’s the best horse I have ever sat on,” said Ortiz who was completing a double after the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Turf Stakes with Colonel Liam.

Longer distance

Life Is Good may now return in the $12 million Dubai World Cup at a longer distance than he has run before. But the clash everyone wants now is with the unbeaten Flightline, who received the highest Speed Figure of 118 for 2021 in the Malibu Stakes. This might take place in the Met Mile in June.

“We’re in no rush to make a decision but we do feel this horse is talented enough to do just about anything and that includes get a mile and a quarter,” Pletcher added.

Knicks Go just did not seem to have the edge he had last year. The speedy son of Paynter broke cleanly but Life Is Good and Stilleto Boy (Jose Ortiz) moved in front of him in the initial strides. Trainer Brad Cox reported afterwards: “Joel [Rosario] said there were a couple of horses there with him and Joel said, ‘Okay, we’ll take back.’ That was Plan B. He did a good job, but it wasn’t good enough. The winner was very, very good.”

Though Knicks Go chased in second most of the way, he could not cut into the margin until the final stages when the winner was eased. Knicks Go retires with earnings of $9,258,135. He will stand with Taylor Made Stallions for $30,000 this season.