The Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland is now just three weeks away and the excitement is beginning to mount. Here we take an early look at the Classic for an overview on whether the outstanding Flightline is vulnerable to any of his rivals, and also consider the Dirt Mile, for which multiple G1 winner Jack Christopher is a solid favorite. Here is all you need to know for this 2022 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Top Horses
Breeders’ Cup Classic
Grade 1, $6,000,000, 1m 2f, 3yo+, Keeneland, November 5
The culmination of the biggest weekend in US racing, the centerpiece of the all-aged schedule, the Breeders’ Cup Classic is one of the world’s great races and this year plays host to one of the world’s great – likely one of the greatest-ever – horses.
By now you know all about Flightline. Five runs, five wins, never by less than six lengths, and architect of the greatest, most thorough demolition of a top-line G1 since the legendary Secretariat when he tore apart the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, cruising under a hand-ride in a very fast time by 19 and a quarter lengths.
It’s a simple scenario. If Flightline runs his race, struts his stuff, he wins. No question.
But strange things can happen between gate and wire, and if Flightline misfires – and miracles do happen – then there’s a starry bunch of pretenders waiting to steal his crown.
Foremost among them is the three-year-old champion-elect Epicenter, runner-up in the G1 Kentucky Derby and the G1 Preakness Stakes before going to Saratoga to beat Zandon by a length and a half in the G2 Jim Dandy, and then dominate in the G1 Travers.
He strolled away to win by five and a quarter lengths from Cyberknife, Zandon and shock Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike over the ten-furlong Classic distance, and that’s the best sophomore form in the book. He’s a powerful galloper but has never met older horses.
Neither has Cyberknife, who beat Taiba by a head in the G1 Haskell, nor Taiba, who took his revenge with an impressive score in the G1 Pennsylvania Derby, beating the solid but limited Zandon by three lengths with a disappointing Cyberknife – who may yet be pointed to the Dirt Mile – back in third.
Rich Strike has met his elders – see below – but he has not yet been confirmed a Classic contender, although he has already caused one stunning upset in his career and there’s an uncanny feeling that he might have another one in him. Taiba is entitled to improve further after just five starts and, along with Epicenter, is the most likely to take advantage should Flightline falter.
The other older horses carry big question marks against them. The hugely talented Life Is Good has more natural speed than anything else in the race but there’s a major doubt over whether he can carry it for ten furlongs, having failed to do so in the G1 Dubai World Cup. That race was won by Taiba’s barnmate Country Grammer, who was then left for dead by Flightline in the Pacific Classic and is not certain to be given a second chance.
Dubai World Cup runner-up Hot Rod Charlie nipped Rich Strike at the line in the G2 Lukas Classic but his limitations have been exposed frequently and he is not quite top-class. Neither is Olympiad, who is six-for-seven in 2022 and got his first G1 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga last time and appeals more as a solid board horse than one who can actually put Flightline out of his comfort zone. His barnmate Art Collector isn’t good enough.
Breeders’ Cup Classic Betting Prediction
The Classic is FLIGHTLINE’s to lose, and never in his life has he looked like losing anything. It could be the kind of race that is talked about forever, so don’t miss it. You might see something you’ll never forget.
|HORSE||ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Life Is Good||+600|
|Hot Rod Charlie||+1500|
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile
Grade 1, $1,000,000, 1m, 3yo+, Keeneland, November 5
There is also another short-priced favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, although not quite in the same vein as Flightline – although what is?
Unbeaten as a two-year-old, Jack Christopher was kept off the Kentucky Derby trail through injury and that was probably a blessing in disguise, as he has proved unstoppable at shorter distances. He won the G2 Pat Day Mile and the seven-furlong G1 Woody Stephens (by ten lengths), couldn’t go the nine furlongs of the G1 Haskell but returned to his sparkling best in the G1 H Allen Jerkens Memorial at Saratoga over seven.
He was a comfortable winner that day, by a length and a quarter from the tenacious Gunite – an easy winner in stakes company next time – with Accretive playing no part back in fifth, and is a worthy favorite, the one to beat, although he is reportedly also a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
The remarkably consistent Cody’s Wish, never off the board in ten starts, leapt to prominence when beating below-par champion sprinter Jackie’s Warrior in the G1 Forego at Saratoga over seven furlongs. A slow-burning colt typical of his trainer Bill Mott, there is more to come.
So too from Laurel River, the California delegate who made his stakes breakthrough in impressive fashion in the seven-furlong G2 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar, drawing off to win by three and three-quarter lengths from American Theorem and Senor Buscador, who closed late for third and prefers the mile over which he won the G3 Ack Ack at Churchill Downs last time. Laurel River stays a mile well too and is still moving towards his peak.
Last year’s easy winner Life Is Good is expected to head for the Classic, as are several of those – Taiba, Epicenter, Olympiad – towards the top of the future book, but his barnmate Charge It is a fascinating possibility, having not been seen since battering his rivals to the tune of 23 lengths in the G3 Dwyer at Belmont Park over a mile in early July.
A foot abscess kept Charge It out of the Travers and he also missed an intended run in the Pennsylvania Derby, and the last bulletin out of the camp suggested that he was being aimed at the G2 Kelso at Aqueduct on October 29. Plans may change, though.
Jack Christopher’s barnmate Reinvestment Risk has yet to win at stakes level or over further than seven furlongs, so his chance is not obvious.
Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Free Betting Pick
Jack Christopher is the established class, but CODY’S WISH remains a colt of huge potential and is almost certain to take another step forward.
|HORSE||ODDS BY JAZZSPORTS|
|Life Is Good||+1200|
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