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Bernier's Best

Breeders' Cup 2022: Saturday Preview

by Matt Bernier
Updated On: November 4, 2022, 9:36 am 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.

Saturday's Breeders' Cup races feature some of the best equine athletes in the world, headlined by the incomparable Flightline.

Flightline is going to be difficult to beat in this year's Classic, as will a few other short-priced favorites on Championship Saturday.

Below you will find selections for a few races on Saturday's card that I feel will go off at fair prices, meaning you won't find the likes of Flightline or Jackie's Warrior (among others) here.

Coverage on Breeders' Cup Saturday begins at 1 PM ET on USA Network and Peacock before shifting to NBC and Peacock at 3:30 PM ET, culminating in the $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

 

 

11:50 ET – KEENELAND R3 – G1 BREEDERS' CUP FILLY & MARE SPRINT – 7 FURLONGS – DIRT

She's not the most trustworthy mare, but FRANK'S ROCKETTE (5) is in career form and warrants consideration in this year's Filly & Mare Sprint. Trained by Bill Mott, the five-year-old daughter of Into Mischief has rattled off three consecutive triple digit Beyer Speed Figures, including a six-length blowout score at Charles Town over inferior in her most recent start. There's a real scenario that seven furlongs is slightly farther than this mare would ideally like to go, but there's plenty of speed in this race for her to chase, and if she's ever going to win a race of this stature – it's this one.

THE PICK: 5) FRANK'S ROCKETTE

 

 

1:10 ET – KEENELAND R5 – G1 BREEDERS' CUP DIRT MILE – 1 MILE – DIRT

It may not be the largest field, but the group assembled for the Dirt Mile features quality from top to bottom. Although his best race to date came around one-turn, LAUREL RIVER (6) has proven himself around two-turns in Southern California for trainer Bob Baffert, allaying any fears about the configuration of Saturday's race. A son of Into Mischief, Laurel River has done little wrong in his career, and his tactical speed should put him in prime position as the field enters the second turn beneath jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. Not only would a big performance on Saturday earn Laurel River a Breeders' Cup Championship, but it could also set him up to be one of the best older horses in the country in 2023.

THE PICK: 6) LAUREL RIVER

 

 

1:50 ET – KEENELAND R6 – G1 BREEDERS' CUP FILLY & MARE TURF – 1 3/16 MILES – TURF

The European contingent is particularly strong in this race, but Chad Brown is well represented with both a pacesetter and a filly that will rally from the back of the pack. While In Italian is in the best form and will be the one cutting out the fractions, one of her uncouple stablemates is my preferred charge in ROUGIR (9). There were great expectations surrounding Rougir when she came to the United States from Europe, but she hasn't yet performed to the level most thought she would. My gut feeling is the four-year-old filly appreciates turf courses that aren't of the firmest variety, as her worst efforts in the U.S. have come over grass tracks that have been as hard as rock. There hasn't been any real rain to speak of in the Lexington area for some time, but the Keeneland turf course in early November should have a bit more cushion than some of the turf courses over the summer up north did. If this is the case, Rougir can fire a big shot at a huge price in this year's Filly & Mare Turf.

THE PICK: 9) ROUGIR

 

 

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3:10 ET – KEENELAND R8 – G1 BREEDERS' CUP MILE – 1 MILE – TURF

In what is arguably the deepest field from start to finish, I look for Todd Pletcher's ANNAPOLIS (11) to take another step forward and prove formidable in this year's Mile. A three-year-old son by War Front, Annapolis has never been out of the exacta in seven lifetime starts, winning five times and finishing second twice – and the losses can be excused (ran in swamp-like conditions at Penn National in June off a lengthy layoff; ran at a distance too far at Saratoga in August). Annapolis did save every inch of ground when defeating several common foes in last month's Coolmore Mile over this Keeneland turf course, but simply saying he can't win Saturday because he took the shortest way around the track is glossing over a larger element from that race: the pace scenario. In last month's race, Annapolis was the only horse close to the pace kicking on at the end, mitigating the ground-saving trip he pulled; Saturday's race appears to set up similarly on paper, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. likely taking up a stalking position behind the California invaders Beyond Brilliant and Smooth Like Strait. At odds of 6/1 or greater, Annapolis will likely be my biggest bet of the entire Breeders' Cup weekend.

THE PICK: 11) ANNAPOLIS

 

 

3:55 ET – KEENELAND R9 – G1 BREEDERS' CUP DISTAFF – 1 1/8 MILES – DIRT

A race that's long been acknowledged as the battle of the Todd Pletcher trainees in Nest and Malathaat, the Distaff features the elite older fillies in mares in the United States as well as some of the best three-year-olds who will look to take down their elders. In my opinion Nest is strictly the filly to beat, but I'm inclined to side with one of the other three-year-old fillies in this race, SOCIETY (8). Society exploded onto the Distaff scene two starts back at Charles Town when she blitzed an overmatched field en route to a nearly seven length victory and a 101 Beyer Speed Figure. The Steve Asmussen trainee then followed that performance up with an equally as impressive romp in the G1 Cotillion at Parx in September, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. The daughter of Gun Runner appears to be the controlling speed in Saturday's race, making her an incredibly dangerous threat to go wire-to-wire.

THE PICK: 8) SOCIETY

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.