01/18/2009 12:00AM

Life Is Sweet shows surprising turn of foot


ARCADIA, Calif. - Garrett Gomez did not realize how talented Life Is Sweet is until Sunday s $150,000 El Encino Stakes was well underway

On the backstretch, Life Is Sweet was farther off the pace than Gomez would have preferred. Any concern ended quickly.

When Life Is Sweet reached the turn, she swept into contention, going from ninth to second by the eighth pole. Life Is Sweet ran past 6-5 favorite Country Star in the final furlong to win the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes by a convincing 2 1/2 lengths.

By the eighth pole, she had inhaled the whole field, Gomez said, who rode Life Is Sweet for the first time. She s still learning. It s nice to know there s more left in the tank.

Owned by Pam and Marty Wygod and trained by John Shirreffs, Life Is Sweet ($9.40) ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.30.

Country Star, the winner of the Grade 1 Alcibiades Stakes and Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet Stakes in 2007, held second, finishing three lengths in front of Miss Singhsix, who raced in traffic on the final turn. The race was restricted to 4-year-old fillies and drew 10 runners.

Life Is Sweet made her first start for Shirreffs in the El Encino, having previously raced for the Wygods on the East Coast with trainer Bill Mott. She was second in the Calder Oaks and Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes last spring.

The El Encino was Life Is Sweet s first stakes win. She has won 3 of 8 starts and $240,810.