12/02/2009 12:00AM

Life Is Sweet to skip Bayakoa, point to 2010


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Life Is Sweet will skip Saturday's $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park and may start in the $150,000 San Gorgonio Handicap at Santa Anita on Jan. 2, trainer John Shrireffs said Wednesday.

The winner of the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 6, Life Is Sweet was the 124-pound highweight for the Bayakoa, which is run over 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Shirreffs and owner Marty Wygod considered the Bayakoa as recently as last weekend but have opted to point for a 2010 campaign.

"It might be a little quick back," Shirreffs said of the Bayakoa.

Life Is Sweet has won 6 of 15 starts and $1,770,810, and would have been a heavy favorite in the Bayakoa. A 4-year-old filly, Life Is Sweet had an outstanding 2009 campaign, winning half of her eight starts, with all the wins coming in graded stakes. In addition, she was third against males in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

Life Is Sweet won twice on turf when trained by Bill Mott at 2 and 3 and will be making her first start on that surface in 19 months if she starts in the San Gorgonio, which is run over 1 1/8 miles.

"We might possibly run in the San Gorgonio," Shirreffs said. "That would lead to the Santa Maria."

The $250,000 Santa Maria is a Grade 1 run over 1 1/16 miles on the main track at Santa Anita on Feb. 13. Life Is Sweet has won all four of her stakes on Santa Anita's main track.

Without Life Is Sweet, the Bayakoa is a more open race, featuring 11 fillies and mares, including defending champion Briecat.

The starting highweight will be Teamgeist, a Group 2 winner in Argentina last year who is winless in four starts in this country. This fall, Teamgeist has been third in the Grade 1 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland and a fast-closing sixth in the Grade 2 Las Palmas Handicap on turf at Santa Anita.

There are six other stakes winners in the field - Czechers, Eissoai, Lucky Copy, Made for Magic, Smooth Performer, and Zardana.

Gonzalez enjoying a solid run

Paco Gonzalez is having a solid Hollywood Park fall meet, with two wins from his first five starters. He expects the success to continue in coming weeks and into 2010 at Santa Anita.

On Friday, Gonzalez starts Bring It Home in an optional claimer over 1 1/4 miles on turf in the day's seventh race. Bring It Home is winless in six starts on the synthetic main tracks of this circuit, but won his turf debut in a one-mile allowance race at Santa Anita on Oct. 29.

Gonzalez thinks the colt is ready for a longer race Friday in a field of eight.

"I think the distance will help him," he said.

Gonzalez trains a 14-horse stable privately for John and Cheryl Toffan. John Toffan and Gonzalez are best known for racing such major stakes winners as Bien Bien, Bienamado, Came Home, and Free House in the last 15 years.

Gonzalez is excited about the prospects of Good Tidings, a Came Home filly who won her debut in a six-furlong maiden race Nov. 27.

She is expected to make her next start during the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting.

Lava Man works for Native Diver

Lava Man, a seven-time Grade 1 winner, worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 on Wednesday in preparation for the $100,000 Native Diver Handicap on Dec. 12.

According to Hollywood Park head clocker Russell Hudak, Lava Man worked the first three furlongs in 37.60 seconds, the last three furlongs in 36 seconds, and galloped out seven furlongs in 1:26.60.

Lava Man, 8, was retired in July 2008 but was brought back into training this fall after responding well to stem cell treatments on an ankle. Trained by Doug O'Neill, Lava Man is best known for winning three consecutive runnings of the Hollywood Gold Cup from 2005-07 and the Santa Anita Handicap and Pacific Classic in 2006.

Crossing the Line returns after two years

Crossing the Line, who won the Grade 2 Del Mar Mile on turf in August 2007, ends a layoff of more than two years in a six-furlong turf race for $28,000 to $32,000 claimers in Friday's fifth race.

Crossing the Line is entered for a $32,000 claiming price. The 7-year-old gelding has not started since the 2007 Del Mar Mile, his fifth consecutive win. In fall 2007, trainer John Sadler said that Crossing the Line was sidelined by a bone chip in an ankle.

* Michael Baze has switched agents for the remainder of the Hollywood Park meeting, with Brian Beach replacing Ron Ebanks.

Beach said Wednesday that his arrangement with Baze will last through the Hollywood Park meeting on Dec. 20, and that Ebanks will resume booking Baze's mounts when the Santa Anita meeting opens Dec. 26.