The 2022 Breeders’ Cup is upon us. We’re on to the Saturday program, which boasts 12 races in total and nine that fall under the Breeders’ Cup umbrella.
In addition to my analysis down below, I’ve been fortunate to be part of some awesome shows and podcasts leading up to the Breeders’ Cup. You’ll find those videos embedded below, and links to podcasts will be there as well.
Alright, time for a huge block of text. As I did last year, I’ll spend more time and energy on races where I have strong opinions (me blabbering on and on in races where I don’t feel strongly about any particular runner doesn’t help anybody). Let’s get to it!
RACE #1: We start bright and early, with a seven-furlong maiden race scheduled for 10:30 am Eastern (7:30 for those of us on the west coast). Thankfully, there’s something worth waking up for, because I like a horse that shouldn’t be favored.
#12 REAGAN ran very well in his debut. He was beaten just a neck that day, and while that day’s winner didn’t run well against winners Friday, I still think this one is very live. Seven furlongs is a tough distance to debut at, and in addition to having an experience edge on most of this group, Reagan also draws a cushy outside post in this 13-horse field. Add in a significant rider switch to Luis Saez, and I think there’s lots of plusses here.
#4 ARABIAN KNIGHT and #10 EXPECT MORE may have talent. However, I like Reagan on top, and I think he may drift up from his 4-1 morning line price.
RACE #2: I can’t see this optional claimer as anything more than a two-horse race. #2 NAKATOMI and #3 MESSIER look significantly faster than the rest of the field. I sincerely hope the morning line odds hold up, though my guess is the respective 9/2 and 4-1 prices will come down.
RACE #3: The first Breeders’ Cup race of the day is the Filly and Mare Sprint. Last year’s renewal was very good for me, as #4 CE CE came rolling home to ensure a very good day. I think this year’s edition goes a bit differently, but I still like a closer on top.
#7 OBLIGATORY has one way of going. She wants to drop back behind a fast pace and come flying late. She had significant traffic problems in the Grade 1 Ballerina, ones the running line doesn’t adequately explain. There’s a lot of speed in this race, and I think it sets up very well for what Obligatory wants to do.
#8 GOODNIGHT OLIVE is the 3-1 morning line choice. She makes some sense, as does #13 ECHO ZULU. Those two and Obligatory are the ones I’ll primarily be leaning on.
RACE #4: The Turf Sprint features #8 GOLDEN PAL, who has never lost a North American turf race. I don’t think he’s a cinch, but he does hit me as this race’s most likely winner.
I can’t get too crazy with any alternatives. The only one that intrigues me at all is #11 CASA CREED, and he’ll be on a few saver tickets in case someone goes with Golden Pal and sets things up for a deep closer. However, I’d like him more at six or seven furlongs than this 5 1/2-furlong distance.
RACE #5: This one hurts. I didn’t just like #6 LAUREL RIVER in the Dirt Mile. I loved Laurel River and saw him as a single. That one scratching Friday morning was a stomach punch, and it forced a complete re-evaluation of this race.
I don’t think #5 GUNITE wants to go two turns, so I’m playing against him. #7 CODY’S WISH isn’t totally illogical, but he’ll be a very short price and he’s another that sure seems more effective going one turn. #9 CYBERKNIFE, meanwhile, will take money, but while his best is good enough to win this, it’s fair to wonder if he peaked over the summer.
With that in mind, I’ll take a shot with #3 PIPELINE. He seems like the main speed in this race, and he went toe-to-toe with Jackie’s Warrior in the Grade 1 Forego last time out. I think he’ll be able to sit an easier trip in here, where there isn’t quite as much early zip on paper. Pipeline is 8-1 on the morning line, and that hits me as the best value in the field.
RACE #6: European runners dominated Friday’s turf races, and I think that trend continues Saturday. They’ve got the top three contenders in the Filly and Mare Turf, and I can’t get past that trio.
#3 NASHWA, #4 ABOVE THE CURVE, and #5 TUESDAY are all good enough to win this on their best day. Given that War Like Goddess’s connections opted to go against boys, the North American contingent just doesn’t hit me as a strong one.
RACE #7: First things first, if #9 JACKIE’S WARRIOR runs his best race, he almost certainly does not lose. However, there’s a bonkers price I’ll also be using, just in case he either misfires or gets caught up in a speed duel early on.
I think #3 O BESOS has been a sprinter all along. His connections ran him in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, but three of his four wins have come at sprint distances. That includes a last-out score in an optional claimer at Churchill Downs, which was his first start since April. I think he’s sitting on a career-best race, and if you’re looking for another horse to use in exotics or contests, O Besos hits me as a logical price play.
RACE #8: Another turf race, another where the European runners loom large. However, while I respect #4 MODERN GAMES and will be using him, I like another Euro on top at a slightly bigger price.
#3 DREAMLOPER was excellent in a Group 1 romp last time out. The two starts before that weren’t great, but I think the distance of those races wasn’t to his liking. It’s possible he’s just not a 10-furlong horse, and he certainly stepped forward in a big way when he was cut back to a mile at Longchamp. A repeat of that performance would make him very, very tough in this spot.
A few American runners are intriguing underneath. #6 IVAR should get a pace to close into, and #8 REGAL GLORY is as consistent as they come. Having said that, most of my multi-race tickets will revolve around Dreamloper and Modern Games.
RACE #9: The Breeders’ Cup Distaff came up a bit short on quantity, but not at all short on quality. In addition, I think it’s a fun betting race because I believe #6 NEST is an underlay. She can win, but her figures don’t tower over a very strong bunch of older fillies and mares, and I feel like she’ll be overbet.
I much prefer both #1 MALATHAAT and #4 CLAIRIERE. The former is 3-for-3 at Keeneland, the latter’s last-out effort is too poor to be true, and both should benefit from a race that has some early speed in it. Add in that neither runner is likely to be favored, and my interest gets piqued even more.
I’ll also throw in #7 SEARCH RESULTS on some of my tickets. I think she may sit a dream stalking trip behind #8 SOCIETY, and she may be the one they have to run down late.
RACE #10: More turf races, more Euros. The Breeders’ Cup Turf, naturally, has an international feel to it, and while I respect #2 WAR LIKE GODDESS, I think she’ll be up against it a bit against some of Europe’s highest-class runners.
I’ll be using #4 BROOME, #7 NATION’S PRIDE, and #11 MISHRIFF. Broome did everything but win this race a season ago when he was a tough-luck second behind Yibir. Like last year, he comes in off a misfire in the Arc de Triomphe, but he’ll get firmer ground, which he should appreciate. Also like last year, he figures to be a square price, which only adds to his appeal.
If you’re going to back an American runner, I’d recommend taking a look at #9 GOLD PHOENIX. This is a significant class hike, to be sure, but he had plenty of trouble early on last time out and was beaten just a neck despite having to rate well behind a modest pace. Flavien Prat had options, but he lands here, and that’s always a good sign.
RACE #11: Don’t get cute. Single #4 FLIGHTLINE and move on.
RACE #12: Yes, there’s a race after the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and it’s a fun one. #4 DALIKA and #5 SHANTISARA headline the Fall Harvest, and I prefer the former, who may not be favored despite coming in off of back-to-back graded stakes wins. She tailed off a bit late last year, but Al Stall has her going in the right direction. If the 7/2 morning line odds hold, that may be enough to entice a win bet.