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This weekend, NBC Sports presents the 2022 Breeders' Cup taking place at Keeneland Race Course on Friday and Saturday in Lexington, KY.
Friday's Breeders' Cup races are restricted to juveniles, and they will race on the turf as well as the dirt. The races Saturday feature the top horses on the planet.
The following is a breakdown of a handful of the top races.
BREEDERS' CUP JUVENILE FILLIES TURF
FRIDAY RACE 8, POST TIME 4:20 PM
Let's kick things off in Friday's 3rd Breeders' Cup race, the Juvenile Fillies Turf. From a gambling perspective, I have never been a fan of the lone Chad Brown trainee in this field, #5 Free Look. She had every chance to win last time out in the Miss Grillo but could not get it done, and her one career win this summer at Saratoga came against competition that was sub-par for the level. I much prefer another one of the short prices, #10 Meditate for Aidan O'Brien. She has good tactical speed – unusual for a European filly – and has run well recently against some tough competition in Britain and Ireland. But distance is a concern – she has never run at this 1-mile distance - so I am looking for someone that gives me more bang for my buck.
I want to give one more shot to #6 Be Your Best. She won by over three lengths in each of her first two starts, a level of dominance you do not usually see in Juvenile Turf races. She was then a massive disappointment as the favorite in the Miss Grillo last time out, but I am willing to excuse that effort – she was two lengths off the pace on a weird day where absolutely nobody made up any ground at a rain-soaked Aqueduct (both races on the grass that day were won wire-to-wire). I think the talent she showed at Saratoga is still there, and she is going to be overlooked here. I am also interested in #13 Xigera, another impressive winner at Saratoga this summer, but I am downgrading her after she drew far outside post position #13.
WIN: #6 Be Your Best, at 10-1 or higher
EXACTA: 6 OVER 10, 13
TRIFECTA: 6 OVER 10, 13
BREEDERS' CUP FILLY & MARE SPRINT
SATURDAY RACE 3, POST TIME 11:50 AM
Let's get a little crazy in Saturday's first Breeders' Cup race, the Filly & Mare Sprint, which could easily feature a pace meltdown and set up well for those coming from off-the-pace. I respect the morning line favorite, #8 Goodnight Olive, as she has improved steadily with each start, even tallying a Grade 1 win in the Ballerina last time out. However, she has gotten the same perfect trip – closely stalking the pace before taking over in the stretch - in her best races. She has never faced a field with this much early speed signed on – she is going to have to come from much further off the pace than she ever has. Sure, she might be talented enough to still get the job done, but I am not interested in finding out if she can win with new tactics and a short price.
I ended up landing on the lone Japanese entrant at this year's Breeders' Cup, #6 Chain of Love. In her last start, a Japanese stakes race at this 7-furlong distance, she was far back at the top of the stretch but closed like a freight train to get up in the final stride. She has already proven to be effective when shipping abroad, running well against males in two rich sprints in the Middle East this spring. In one of those races, she finished a head behind Dr. Schivel…who just happened to be 2nd to Aloha West in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint. I worry that the success of Japanese horses at last year's Breeders' Cup may drive down her price, but anywhere near her morning line of 20-1 is good enough for me to take a shot.
WIN: #6 Chain of Love, at 15-1 or higher
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BREEDERS' CUP TURF SPRINT
SATURDAY RACE 4, POST TIME 12:29 PM
I am against the morning line favorite, #8 Golden Pal, as he goes for a 3rd career Breeders' Cup win in what will be his final start. I know he ran well last time out, and Keeneland is his home track, but this is by far the toughest field he has faced in this country– and I do not want to take a short price when his margin for error is miniscule. I am focusing on a horse that I think, quite frankly, is better than Golden Pal but will be a higher price - #6 HIghfield Princess.
She comes into this race on a 3-race win streak, all in Group 1 races in Europe – and I love that the connections have seemingly made the Breeders' Cup their end-of-season target as she has not raced since September, skipping some of the fall's top European turf sprints. She also has enough early speed to keep Golden Pal in her sights around the turn, and to be in a prime position to pounce down the stretch. It is also a good sign to see her normal rider, Jason Hart, fly over from Europe for just this mount – we saw what happened last year when Yuga Kawada came over exclusively to ride Loves Only You in the Filly & Mare Turf. Other horses to consider are #13 Cazadero who seems to be a brand-new horse since moving to trainer Brendan Walsh and switching to turf and #16 Oceanic who drew into the field on Friday and is currently in the best form of his life.
WIN: #6 Highfield Princess, at 3-1 or higher
EXACTA: 6 OVER 12 and 16
TRIFECTA: 6 OVER 12 and 16
BREEDERS' CUP DISTAFF
SATURDAY RACE 9, POST TIME 3:55 PM
This is one of the stronger Distaff fields in recent years, highlighted by #6 Nest, the morning-line favorite. She has blown away her competition in her last three starts and deserves to be favored, but I think there is better value to be found elsewhere. I am interested in a horse who, at least on paper, has a massive tactical advantage - #8 Society.
She is the lone front-runner in this field, and absolutely ran the competition off their feet in the G1 Cotillion last time out. The speed figures from that performance are on par with some of the top competitors here, meaning just a repeat of that Cotillion performance puts her in a good position to win. #1 Malathaat always shows up with a good effort, but she is a grinder who does her best when battling in close quarters with other horses – I do not think she is going to be able to run down a loose-on-the-lead Society.
WIN: #8 Society, at 5-1 or higher
EXACTA: 8 OVER 1, 6
TRIFECTA: 8 OVER 1,6
BREEDERS' CUP CLASSIC
SATURDAY RACE 11, POST TIME 5:40 PM
As a fan of horse racing, I am incredibly excited to watch The Fantastic Flightline strut his stuff against the top horses in North America. Based off his tour de force in the Pacific Classic last time out, I am ready to call him the most talented horse we have seen in this country since Secretariat, and he should make it look easy here against what is a strong field assembled for the Classic.
But from a wagering perspective, this is a tough race to make a profit. If #4 Flightline goes off at his morning line odds at 3/5, that fairly represents his likelihood of winning and I will bet him to win. But I cannot recommend betting him at anything lower than that, as after all, this is horse racing and anything can happen. If I was going to bet an exacta, it would be Flightline over #6 Epicenter, as the latter is the 2nd-most talented horse in the field, and the off-the-pace running style he has adopted recently should allow him to pass everyone except Flightline in the stretch.
But my best recommendation? Do not place a wager on this race- sit back and enjoy the Flightline show.
WIN: #4 Flightline, at 3/5 or higher
EXACTA: 4 OVER 6
Enjoy the Breeders' Cup on NBC Sports.
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