After two big upsets in the $300,000 Gotham Stakes and the $400,000 Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday, the favorites in the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes looked like they might be vulnerable to the rest of the field. However, from the time the horses broke from the starting gate at Santa Anita Park, it was apparent that they didn't have a lot to be concerned about.
Weyburn had gone off at 46/1 odds and won the Gotham at Aqueduct Park, while Helium at 15/1 had prevailed in Tampa a little earlier in the day. Neither of them has been nominated for the Triple Crown, but that could change now that they have enough points to garner an invitation to the Kentucky Derby.
No surprises at Santa Anita
Life Is Good, trained by Bob Baffert, was a 1/2 favorite at Santa Anita and started from the first post position. The other top horses in the odds were Medina Spirit at 3/1 in post position three and Dream Shake at 9/1, starting from the second position.
Life Is Good had a three-length lead by the 1/2 mile pole and was never threatened, ultimately winning by going away, leaving Medina Spirit eight lengths behind.
Dream Shake had a slight lead on Medina Spirit entering the stretch but couldn't hold it and ended up finishing third, three lengths in front of Roman Centurian, who went off at 11/1 odds. Unlike the first two Championship Series races of the day, there would be no underdogs staging a surprise finish in the San Felipe Stakes.
With the victory, Life Is Good earned $180,000 along with the 50 qualifying points and paid $3.00, $2.20 and $2.10. For second place, Medina Spirit was paid $60,000 and picked up 20 points while paying $2.80 and $2.20.
Dream Shake cashed in for $36,000, earned 10 points and paid $3.00. For the fourth-place finish, Roman Centurian made $18,000 and received five points.
Points standings update
Life Is Good jumped to the top of the standings in Kentucky Derby qualifying with 60 points, tied with Greatest Honour, winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes on February 27. Mandaloun is third with 52 points and Essential Quality is fourth with 40.
His Sham Stakes and San Felipe Stakes wins in impressive fashion have moved Life Is Good to the top of the Triple Crown favorites list. With 60 points, the Bob Baffert horse will most surely be in the Kentucky Derby, along with the other three-year-olds with at least 50 points.
There is still one more race that awards points on a 50-20-10-5 scale, the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 13. Beginning March 20 at The Fair Grounds with the Louisiana Derby, points will begin to carry values of 100-40-20-10.
With only three nominated horses assured of Derby spots, the competition will be keen as the Championship Series kicks into high gear.