DEL MAR, Calif. (NWN) — Life Is Good scored a 5 3/4-length victory at the $1 million Dirt Mile on Saturday, giving jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. his third Breeders’ Cup win of the weekend in Del Mar.
A race earlier, Ortiz guided Golden Sails to a 1 1/4-length victory in the $1 Million Turf Sprint. Both of his mounts were favourites.
The Golden Pal rocked forward and never threatened to win by 1 1/4 lengths. He ran 1 1/4 of the length in 54.75 seconds and paid $7 to win as the 5-2 favorite.
Ortiz and trainer Wesley Ward teamed up with Twilight Gleaming on Friday to jointly take on Juvenile Turf. The Golden Pal won that race last year, making him the Cup winner twice out of five victories in his career.
Todd Plechter coached Life Is Good and won his 12th Cup. Ortiz has 14 career cup victories.
Knicks Go and Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality were the favorites for later Saturday’s $6 million classic. When the express train was scratched in the morning with an ankle-like swelling in his right hip, the ground was reduced to eight.
A day earlier the sun broke through a fog covering an oceanfront track north of San Diego.
Saturday’s first of nine Cup races began with a major upset. Ce Ce, a 6-1 shot, won the $1 million film and Mare Sprint by 2 1/2 lengths. Defending champion Gamine, the 2-5 favorite coached by Bob Baffert, finished third, ending his five-race winning streak.
“She just got tired,” Baffert said. “The winner ran a great run. She looked great in the paddock. I knew she was going to lose.”
Victor Espinoza rode Ce Ce to his first Cup victory since 2015, when the now 49-year-old jockey and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah won the Classic.
NWN freelance writer Mike Farrell contributed to this report.
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