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Bernier's Best

Breeders' Cup 2022: Friday Preview

by Matt Bernier
Updated On: November 3, 2022, 2:44 pm ET

The 2022 Breeders' Cup World Championships are upon us, with racing action taking place Friday and Saturday at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky.

Friday's Breeders' Cup races are restricted to juveniles on both dirt and turf, creating fascinating handicapping puzzles to solve.

Below you will find selections to consider in each of the five Breeders' Cup World Championship races from Keeneland on Friday – all of which can be seen live on USA Network beginning at 2 PM ET.

3:00 ET – KEENELAND R6 – G1 BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE TURF SPRINT – 5.5 FURLONGS – TURF

All eyes will be on The Platinum Queen breaking from the far outside for trainer Richard Fahey and jockey Hollie Doyle, and rightfully so on the heels of their victory against older horses in the G1 Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp in Paris, France last month. The concern for The Platinum Queen – and the other three two-year-olds drawn just to her inside – is the abundance of speed they all possess. Speed is typically the name of the game in turf sprints, but with each of the four outside runners effectively being need-the-lead types, things could get hot and heavy up front. I'm inclined to look for a runner that can be prominent throughout but isn't dependent on having the lead, and that's PERSIAN FORCE (6). Trained by Richard Hannon and ridden by Frankie Dettori, Persian Force has never been worse than third in seven lifetime starts, compiling a record of 7-3-3-1 while racing in Europe. The son of Mehmas has kept good company, too, running against the likes of Blackbeard and Little Big Bear, suggesting he may be up for the challenge on Friday. At anything near his 15/1 morning line odds, Persian Force should be considered underneath in all exotic wagers – if not on top to win.

THE PICK: 6) PERSIAN FORCE

3:40 ET – KEENELAND R7 – G1 BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE FILLIES – 1 1/16 MILES – DIRT

In a field that doesn't feature a superstar, it's typically worth shopping around for a price – especially so in a Breeders' Cup race. She'll get the stiffest test of her career, but ATOMICALLY (8) has shown great promise in her three starts in South Florida at Gulfstream Park and now she transitions to the care of trainer Todd Pletcher. Her victory in a restricted stakes event at Gulfstream on October 1 was visually impressive, an effort that came in her first start navigating two turns. The daughter of Girvin stacks up quite favorably on a variety of speed figures, so there's every reason to think she'll be competitive in a spot like this. The morning line odds of 12/1 seem generous for a filly that was a private purchase and was specifically pointed toward this race; odds of 7/1 or 8/1 would represent fair value on Atomically in her graded stakes debut.

THE PICK: 8) ATOMICALLY

4:20 ET – KEENELAND R8 – G1 BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE FILLIES TURF – 1 MILE – TURF

There are some solid fillies in this year's Juvenile Fillies Turf, but I'm not sure any one of them deserve to be a short price. She pales in comparison to others when it comes to speed figures, but G LAURIE (11) has the look of a filly with serious potential for an all-world trainer in Graham Motion. A daughter of Oscar Performance, this two-year-old decimated a field on debut at Colonial Downs in late August, winning by six lengths. The performance was a noteworthy one, as Graham Motion doesn't typically have his horses ready to roll at first asking, particularly when routing on turf. For G Laurie to do what she did (albeit against a softer bunch) speaks volumes to her potential. A rough trip in the G1 Natalma at Woodbine last out should be forgiven, and now blinkers are added for this event on Friday. In a wide-open race, G Laurie rates an upset glance at double-digit odds.

THE PICK: 11) G LAURIE

 

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5:00 ET – KEENELAND R9 – G1 BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE – 1 1/16 MILES – DIRT

There's not a great deal to say about this year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile in terms of handicapping. The fastest horse in the race is likely to work out the best trip, making CAVE ROCK (3) strictly the horse to beat. The winner of the Juvenile is annually installed as the future-book favorite for the following year's Kentucky Derby, and this year will be no different given what Cave Rock has done in three lifetime starts. A son of the late sire Arrogate, Cave Rock has displayed a powerful stride that seemingly gets stronger as the races get longer. The Bob Baffert trainee has never been headed in three lifetime starts, winning each race by a combined margin of 16.5 lengths. Another runner would need to improve substantially while also having Cave Rock regress significantly, a scenario I don't envision happening. Cave Rock looms as a prohibitive favorite in this spot, likely going off in the vicinity of 3/5.

THE PICK: 3) CAVE ROCK

 

5:40 ET – KEENELAND R10 – G1 BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE TURF – 1 MILE – TURF

 

The horse to beat in this year's Juvenile Turf is Silver Knott for Godolphin and trainer Charlie Appleby, and it's understandable why this is the case. Silver Knott was a gutsy winner of the G3 Autumn Stakes at Newmarket last month, and we've reached a point where any horse Charlie Appleby sends to North America must be given serious consideration. While he's the most likely winner, I believe RECKONING FORCE (11) can outrun his odds and spice up exotics at a massive price. Trained by Brendan Walsh, the two-year-old son of Air Force Blue was among the favorites in last month's Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, a race that serves as the local prep for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. In that race, Reckoning Force was away from the gates slowly, getting pinched and shuffled back to last. From there, the trip never improved, with him running up on heels multiple times and never getting the chance to strut his stuff. Walsh adds blinkers for Friday's race, and if Reckoning Force can break more alertly and establish a reasonable position as the field rounds the first of two turns, I think he will have a chance to hit the board. His morning line odds of 20/1 are appealing, and there's a real chance that he goes off at a price north of that. Again, he may not be the most likely winner, but I believe Reckoning Force can hit the board at a giant price in the Juvenile Turf (or more).

THE PICK: 11) RECKONING FORCE

Matt Bernier

Matt Bernier is a betting analyst for NBC Sports and host of "The Matt Bernier Show" podcast. His work has been showcased in the Daily Racing Form, on ESPN, as well as on TVG. Matt can be followed on Twitter @bernier_matt.