Living the Life bids for three-peat in Presque Isle Downs Masters

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September 19th, 2016

In its short history, the Presque Isle Downs Masters (G2) has a tendency to produce repeat winners, with Informed Decision (2009-10), Groupie Doll (2012-13), and currently Living the Life (2014-15). On Monday evening, the two-time defending champion will try to stand alone in the annals by winning the 6 1/2-furlong sprint for the third time.

As a synthetic specialist, the Gary Mandella mare wasn’t suited by Southern California’s return to dirt. Living the Life has compiled some useful efforts on the traditional American surface, including a pair of thirds in the Santa Margarita (G1) and Santa Maria (G2) this winter, but the Irish-bred raises her game on the all-weather.

Hence her trek to Golden Gate to tackle males in the May 30 All American (G3), where she bravely gutted out a neck decision on the Tapeta. That marks her only win since last year’s Masters. After a toss-out last in the July 3 Southern Truce on Santa Anita’s dirt, Living the Life promises a more formful showing back on the Presque Isle Tapeta. Flavien Prat regains the mount on the 4-1 morning line favorite, who’s drawn in post 5.

Her classiest opponents, Birdatthewire and Bar of Gold, are venturing into terra incognita in their first tries on synthetic. Dale Romans’ Birdatthewire, who earned her signature win in last December’s La Brea (G1), has been competing well in defeat, most recently when fourth in the Ballerina (G1). Bar of Gold has yet to break through with a graded victory for John Kimmel, but her five placings include last year’s Test (G1). And with her pedigree, as a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro and Grade 3 turf vixen Khancord Kid, Bar of Gold could adapt well to the Tapeta.

Disco Barbie, runner-up to Living the Life here in 2014, missed last year’s renewal but is back on song this time. The 10-1 shot brings a three-race winning streak over this track, dethroning Cactus Kris in the Satin and Lace and edging Cactus Copy in an August 30 allowance.

Cactus Kris, fourth in the 2015 Masters, also excels on synthetic. Twice a Grade 3 winner over Woodbine’s all-weather (on Polytrack and the new Tapeta), she exits a dead-heat third north of the border in the Seaway (G3). Cactus Kris and sophomore Cactus Copy are coupled in the wagering as the Ryan Walsh entry.

Also exiting the Seaway are runner-up Elusive Collection, a lightly raced type with upside for Josie Carroll, and the other dead-heat third Regia Marina, a Medaglia d’Oro half-sister to champion Midshipman and Fast Cookie (the dam of Frosted). Trained by Eoin Harty for Godolphin, Regia Marina aired in her first two starts on synthetic, notably in an allowance at this track and trip two starts back.

The speedy Sarah Sis is another likely to appreciate the surface, as she wired the Chicago H. (G3) over Arlington’s Polytrack earlier this summer. Meshell, a half-sister to current Sanford (G3) scorer Bitumen and a three-quarter sister to Quality Road, is capable of hitting the board with her best effort. Athena enters in good form on dirt for Helen Pitts, but her pedigree suggests some versatility. Unbridled Courage is a perfect three-for-three on the Presque Isle Tapeta, but it’s an open question of how much that helps her with class concerns.

Living the Life photo courtesy Shane Micheli/Vassar Photography