H. Allen Jerkens Memorial 2021 Entries: The return of LIG

Todd Pletcher sends out Life is Good for the first time under his banner in the Grade I H. Allen Jerkens
Todd Pletcher sends out Life is Good for the first time under his banner in the Grade I H. Allen Jerkens

The Grade I Travers is the big race of the day but Saturday’s card at Saratoga is full of fascinating battles and the one Neil Monnery is most looking forward to is the return of Life is Good as the three-year-old who sat atop of his Road to the Kentucky Derby rankings for the majority of the year returns to the track and takes on one-turn stars Jackie’s Warrior and Drain the Clock...

H. Allen Jerkens Memorial 2021 Entries & Post Positions
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  • Drain the Clock
  • Jackie's Warrior
  • Newbomb
  • Following Sea
  • Judge N Jury
  • Life is Good

Back in November last year I distinctly remember sitting on my sofa and watching Life is Good win his debut by obliterating the field at Del Mar. It was an NFL Sunday but watching that performance was the most memorable sporting moment for me that day. He vaulted on to my watch list for the Kentucky Derby and when he stepped up and won the Grade III Sham ahead of Medina Spirit, he took over as my choice.

Victory in the San Felipe next time out kept him in that spot before injury took him off the road and saw us wondering ‘what if?’

Since that day everything has kicked off with his then trainer Bob Baffert. That story has been written about multiple times so I’ll bypass that and just say that Todd Pletcher now trains him and his raw speed seems perfect for a one-turn return but what a race for him to do it.

Jackie’s Warrior has been the best one-turn male horse of the past two years. When the Steve Asmussen trained colt failed to bring home the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November it did cause a bit of a concern about his stamina and after finishing third at the Southwest, the decision was taken to take him off the road to the Derby to concentrate on one-turn races.

Since then he’s gone two for three with his only reversal coming to Drain the Clock at the Grade I Woody Stephens where he got a terrible break out of the gate. He got revenge over the Saffie Joseph trained colt last time out at the Grade II Amsterdam earlier in the Saratoga meet. I’m certainly a much bigger fan of JW than I am DTC and feel relatively confident that all things being equal - the former would defeat the latter more than 50% of the time at distances between 6f and 1m.

Todd Pletcher though has an extra card up his sleeve as along with Life is Good, he sends out Runhappy colt Following Sea. This three-year-old finished second at the Grade I Haskell at Monmouth Park in July and whilst nine furlongs was clearly two or three too far for this colt - to finish second was still an admirable performance. Returning to seven furlongs will be much more in his wheelhouse. On paper I see him at best, the third best horse in the race but don't rule him out and if he sits at a decent price in the pool - which is very possible as money piles on for LIG and JW - then he might be a value play.

Judge N Jury and Newbomb take the big step up in class and should be considered the outsiders.

The H. Allen Jerkens Memorial is part on a scintillating day of racing at Saratoga, which will be handicapped by our very own J.N. Campbell on Friday...

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