02/15/2009 12:00AM

Life Is Sweet gets there on time


ARCADIA, Calif. - As Life Is Sweet ran down the stretch of Sunday's $200,000 La Canada Stakes, her chances seemed dim to jockey Garrett Gomez. Then, she displayed her brilliance.

Life Is Sweet rallied from last into a slow pace to win the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes by three-quarters of a length over Magical Fantasy.

The rally stunned, and delighted, Gomez.

"I knew she could lengthen her stride and quicken, but I didn't know if she could lengthen her stride and catch them," he said. "It takes a tremendous filly to do that with the fractions they set."

Life Is Sweet was last for the first half-mile of the La Canada, run at 1 1/8 miles for 4-year-old fillies. Bsharpsonata, a six-time stakes winner, set a slow pace of 24.76 and 50.03 seconds, with Life Is Sweet last, trailing by 7 1/2 lengths at that point.

Gomez moved Life Is Sweet off the rail on the backstretch and passed a few horses. Life Is Sweet was seventh of nine on the final turn, and fifth, trailing by 2 3/4 lengths, with a furlong remaining. She was widest of all in the final furlong and got up to win the second stakes of her career.

"I tapped her a couple of times and she gave me a little more," Gomez said of the stretch run. "She showed me a turn of foot."

Life Is Sweet ($4.40) was timed in 1:49.70. Magical Fantasy finished a neck in front of Bsharpsonata.

Owned by Marty and Pam Wygod and trained by John Shirreffs, Life Is Sweet is unbeaten in two starts this year, having won the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes on Jan. 18. She has won 4 of 9 starts and $360,010.

Daytona: Desert Code unstoppable

There is no set running style for Desert Code on Santa Anita's hillside turf course. Anything has worked of late.

In the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint last October, Desert Code closed from 12th in a 14-horse field to win by a half-length at 36-1. In Sunday's $100,000 Daytona Handicap, Desert Code ($6.20) led throughout and won by 2 1/2 lengths.

The difference was the pace. In the BC Turf Sprint, the leaders flew through the first half-mile in 41.81 seconds. In the Daytona Handicap, Desert Code set a seemingly pedestrian pace of 44.38 seconds, much to the delight of jockey Aaron Gryder.

"After the first quarter-mile, I was saying, "This is sweet,' " Gryder said.

Desert Code led by a length on the hillside and was not threatened in the stretch, finishing about 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:12.58. Euroglide, an 8-1 outsider, finished second, three-quarters of a length in front of 10-1 Guns on the Table in the field of eight.

The Grade 3 Daytona was Desert Code's first start since the BC Turf Sprint. A 5-year-old horse by E Dubai, Desert Code missed a few weeks of training last fall because of an inflamed ankle. Owned by Tarabilla Farms, Desert Code has won 7 of 20 starts and $1,088,939.