Life is good these days for the horse with the same name, who looms as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby.
The unbeaten Bob Baffert-trained Life Is Good closed as the 2-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Owned by WinStar Farm, the son of Into Mischief is the shortest-priced individual March future wager favorite in the 23-year history of the bet.
Life Is Good recently improved his record to 3-0 with an eight-length victory in the $300,000 San Felipe Stakes at California’s Santa Anita. The colt is expected to make his final Derby prep April 3 in the Santa Anita Derby.
Arlington will close
Less than 10 years after the demolition of historic Hollywood Park in California, another one of America’s longtime racetracks appears headed for the same fate.
It recently was announced that Arlington International Racecourse in suburban Chicago will close after this year’s race meet. A plan to sell the 326 acres for redevelopment is being worked on by Churchill Down Incorporated (CDI), which operates the track.
Arlington’s final meet is scheduled to run from April 30 to Sept. 25.
A spokesman for CDI said the corporation will pursue the relocation of Arlington’s racing license elsewhere in Illinois.
Marshall Cassidy dies
Racing fans lost one of the sport’s great announcers when Marshall Cassidy passed away recently in New York.
Cassidy, 75, had served as the track announcer for the New York Racing Association (NYRA) from 1979 to 1990.
Famous for his accuracy and even-keeled delivery, he later served as a patrol and placing judge.
Cassidy is perhaps best known for his call of the 1989 Belmont Stakes when New York-based Easy Goer upset Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Sunday Silence.
Coming to the finish, Cassidy roared “It’s New York’s Eeeeeeasy Goer, in front!”
Martinez leads at Fonner
Defending riding champion Armando Martinez is off to a quick start after three weeks of racing at Grand Island’s Fonner Park.
The veteran jockey has 15 wins, one more than Jake Olesiak. Scott Bethke is third with 12 wins.
In the trainer standings, Nebraska Hall of Famer David Anderson is first with 11 wins. Schuyler Condon is second with eight and Kelli Martinez is third with seven.
Corbett wins 4,000th
Jockey Glenn Corbett, a longtime rider in the Midwest, recently picked up career victory No. 4,000 at Turf Paradise in Arizona.
According to the racing information website Equibase, the 55-year-old became the 77th North American rider to reach that milestone.
Corbett rode his first winner in 1985 and spent part of his career riding at Omaha’s Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack and Iowa’s Prairie Meadows. He was inducted into the Prairie Meadows Hall of Fame in 2019, along with fellow riders Alex Birzer and Omaha native Terry Thompson.
Corbett has ridden in more than 25,000 races and won purses of more than $55 million.
Commission to meet
The Nebraska Racing Commission will hold its next meeting March 31 at 1:30 p.m. at the commission office in Lincoln.
Agenda items include a request by Horsemen’s Park to extend its live meet from two to nine days. Delayed construction on the casino that will be built on the property will allow for the additional dates.
Saudi Cup drama
The recent $20 million Saudi Cup race in Saudi Arabia had its share of postrace drama.
David Egan, the 21-year-old jockey who guided Mishriff to victory over favored Charlatan, was forced to forfeit 10% of his share of the $10-million winner’s purse for violating the country’s whip rules.
Egan exceeded the Saudi Jockey Club’s 10-strike limit, leading to a two-day riding suspension and a fine estimated at $100,000.
Charlatan’s jockey, Hall of Famer Mike Smith, also was suspended two days for interfering with Sleepy Eyes Todd early in the nine-furlong race. Sleepy Eyes Todd won the Gus Fonner/Bosselman Stakes at Grand Island’s Fonner Park last season.
Prat reaches 1,000
French-born rider Flavien Prat recently picked up career victory No. 1,000 at Santa Anita.
The 28-year-old is perhaps best remembered for winning the 2019 Kentucky Derby via disqualification aboard Country House. That colt moved to first when Maximum Security, owned by Omahans Gary and Mary West, was ruled to have interfered near the head of the stretch.
Breeders Cup update
The Breeders Cup, scheduled to run Nov. 5-6 at Del Mar in southern California, is delaying ticket sales because of the pandemic.
Fans were not allowed at last year’s Breeders Cup, which was held at Keeneland in Kentucky, for the same reason.
Del Mar officials have said the track was delaying sales until there was “greater clarity on the ever-changing landscape.”
The Nebraska 100: Our greatest athletes
The Nebraska 100, originally selected in 2005 and then updated and re-ranked in 2015, came from a pool of nearly 500 names from the ranks of high school, college, amateur and professional sports from the past 140 years. Assistance came from a panel of veteran sports observers from across the state, with the newspaper's sports staff determining the final rankings.