Only five horses lined up for the G3 Sham, due in large part to the presence of sensational debut winner Life Is Good (#5). Currently occupying the number one spot on my list of Kentucky Derby contenders, Life Is Good could hardly have been more impressive in his first start on November 22 at Del Mar, where he absolutely trounced four other runners. Not only was he visually impressive that day, but the runner-up from that race, who was beaten by 9 ½ lengths by Life Is Good, returned to break his maiden in late December with an 88 Beyer Speed Figure.
Terrifyingly, that means the 91 Beyer Speed Figure Life Is Good earned for his first-out score may actually be too low. Really the only chink in his armor is a pedigree that is more sprint-oriented, though he doesn’t necessarily give that impression on the track and it would take massive regression for him to get beat here. On the contrary, I see him taking another step forward and solidifying his status as the early favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby.
I won’t be using any backups in this race, but I do think Life Is Good’s stablemate Medina Spirit (#1) is an intriguing prospect. This horse has virtually no pedigree and was purchased for just 35k last year as a 2-year-old in training, which is an incredibly low sum for a Baffert trainee, but it all started to make sense in his debut when he dusted a field of maidens going 5 ½ furlongs at Los Alamitos. Unlike Life Is Good, Medina Spirit does have a good deal of stamina in his pedigree, and I’m expecting him to improve in his second start as he sheds blinkers. That will still probably leave him well short of the favorite, however.
The other horse that’s worth mentioning in the Sham is Parnelli (#3), who finally broke his maiden last out in his fourth try. The biggest advantage he has on this field is his abundant route experience as he’s already logged three starts going a mile. Unfortunately for him, he’s not run all that fast to date and his development has stagnated in recent starts. He does own a close runner-up finish to Spielberg, who won the G2 Los Al Futurity, so he does have a bit of quality, but it would take monumental improvement for him to eclipse Life Is Good.