11/25/2009 1:00AM

Bayakoa an option for Life Is Sweet


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Life Is Sweet, winner of the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 6, may not be done racing this year.

After she worked a half-mile in 50 seconds at Hollywood Park on Wednesday, trainer John Shirreffs said the 4-year-old filly could try for her fifth stakes win of 2009 in the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap over 1 1/16 miles on Dec. 5.

Wednesday's workout was Life Is Sweet's first since the Ladies' Classic win. Owned by breeders Marty and Pam Wygod, Life Is Sweet has won 6 of 15 starts and $1,770,810.

"I can't say whether she'll run," Shirreffs said. "It's Marty's call. We'll nominate her to the Bayakoa."

Shirreffs said that if Life Is Sweet does not start in the Bayakoa that she is unlikely to race until the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita in February.

Life Is Sweet ended a four-race losing streak in the Ladies' Classic, rallying from last in a field of eight to win by a convincing 2 1/2 lengths. Earlier this year at Santa Anita, she won three consecutive stakes - the El Encino and La Canada stakes for 4-year-old fillies, and the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap against mares.

In most seasons, those four stakes wins might be enough to clinch the title as champion older female. This year, the title will go to Zenyatta, the 5-year-old mare who won the Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 and is a leading contender for Horse of the Year title along with the 3-year-old sensation Rachel Alexandra. Zenyatta also is trained by Shirreffs.

Tuscan Evening in Matriarch after sale

Tuscan Evening won the Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap at Santa Anita on Nov. 6 and was sold for $650,000 at the Fasig-Tipton November sale in Kentucky on Nov. 10.

Following the sale, Tuscan Evening returned to trainer Jerry Hollendorfer's Southern California stable in advance of Saturday's $300,000 Matriarch Stakes. She will be after the first Grade 1 win of her career in the one-mile turf race, and Hollendorfer said that the big performance earlier this month and a quick trip to Kentucky has not hampered her chances.

"We missed a couple of days of training, but it didn't seem to affect her too much," he said. "We thought confidently of entering her."

Tuscan Evening starts on Saturday for William de Burgh, who ran her earlier this year when she won the Grade 2 Royal Heroine and the Las Palmas. The recent sale was conducted to dissolve a partnership.

Hollendorfer said Tuscan Evening will be campaigned in 2010, in an attempt to build on a record of 6 wins in 20 starts and $509,408.

"I think [the Las Palmas] was one of her best races," Hollendorfer said. "I think we'd like to race her all next year and see what we can do."

The Matriarch has drawn a field of seven and is led by Ventura, who won the Woodbine Mile against males in September and was a fast-closing second to Informed Decision in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Santa Anita on Nov. 6.

The Program showing maturity

With his summertime antics apparently behind him, The Program, a 2-year-old colt trained by Bob Baffert, is showing signs of significant promise this fall.

A Harlan's Holiday colt, The Program beat maidens in his third start on Oct. 30, his first start at a mile. On Friday, he starts in an allowance race over 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood Park, a race that could lead to a stakes appearance this winter.

Baffert is just delighted that The Program has settled down and is no longer performing his impression of a bucking bronc, seen at Del Mar.

"He looked like he was getting ready for the National Finals Rodeo," Baffert said. "He's heading in the right direction and acting like a man. I think the distance will help him, and he's been behaving better since Del Mar."

Owned by the Thoroughbred Legends Racing Stable, The Program drew the rail in a field of six. There is one stakes-placed runner in the field - Privilaged, who was third in the Jack Goodman Stakes over six furlongs at Santa Anita on Oct. 31. Friday's race is his first start around two turns.

Thomas Baines, purchased for approximately $32,000 at a horses of racing age sale in England in October, is making his debut for trainer Doug O'Neill. Thomas Baines needed six races to beat maidens, finally doing so in a seven-furlong race for 2-year-olds on Polytrack at Wolverhampton, England, on Sept. 11. A week later, he finished well to be third in a seven-furlong race at the same track.

"I'm hoping he runs the way he's training," O'Neill said. "He's really been training well."