The curtain-closing event of the 2022 horse racing season took place at Keeneland across the first weekend in November this year, as the Breeders’ Cup was staged at the track in Lexington for the third time.
Some of the biggest equine stars from around the world will be on show at the track, as three of the top 13 ranked races on the planet compete across the two-day meet. Here are the biggest races that were staged this year, and were the biggest stars at the meet.
The Breeders’ Cup is the final big racing meet of the season and is staged annually at different tracks across the United States. It has only been staged outside the U.S. on one previous occasion, with Woodbine, Canada, hosting the Breeders’ Cup in 1996.
It has been a two-day event since 2007, with the opening day now consisting of races for some of the brightest two-year-olds on the dirt and turf. However, the big day comes on a Saturday, as the majority of the $30 million purse will be handed out across nine championship races. Winners of the biggest races often go on to pick up Eclipse Awards in their respective divisions at the end of the year, while ensuring that their legacy is assured.
The action at Keeneland this year got underway on Friday, November 4. The opening day of the meet is all about the stars of tomorrow, as Juvenile races are staged across a number of disciplines.
This day offered an early look at potential Kentucky Derby winners for 2022, as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile offers points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. This year’s race promised to be an exciting renewal, with Cave Rock heading the betting for Bob Baffert. However, Todd Pletcher’s Forte has already won over course and distance, and he was the biggest danger.
There is also set to be exciting action on the grass, as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf will attract runners from far and wide. Charlie Appleby won the edition in 2021, and he will be looking for back-to-back wins with Silver Knott. However, Aidan O’Brien’s Blackbeard could be the value in the betting.
The big day of the two-day meet comes on a Saturday, as there are nine Grade 1s set to be run on the turf and dirt races on the card. The amount of prize money on offer is dependent on the race, with a $1 million purse being set for the Dirt Mile, Filly & Mare Sprint, and Turf Sprint.
Meanwhile, a $2 million purse is available to connections running in the Sprint, Mile, Distaff, and Filly & Mare Turf. However, the two standout races on the big day of championship racing come in the forms of the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The Breeders’ Cup Turf is the standout race at the event for runners on the grass, and a European Classic distance of 1 and ½ miles will be covered. This race has been dominated by British and Irish-trained runners in recent years, with five of the previous seven winners having been trained across the channel. Last year’s winner was Yibir for Charlie Appleby, but the four-year-old will not be back to defend his title this year.
The market has been shaken up considerably since the British Champions Stakes at Ascot, with shock winner, Bay Bridge, now heading the betting. Rebel’s Romance will be the contender for last year’s winning connections, and the four-year-old has already won graded races across England and Germany this year.
Mishriff has been an international winner in the graded company throughout his career, which includes victory in the G1 Dubai Sheema Classic and Saudi Cup in 2021. The most likely contender for the American trainers looks set to be War Like Goddess, who was the winner of the G3 Bewitch Stakes at Keeneland earlier this year.
The feature at the Breeders’ Cup comes in the form of the Classic. This race is the most prestigious held on the dirt and ranks as the fourth most prestigious race in the IFHA rankings. This Grade 1 is run over 1 ¼ miles and offers an eye-watering purse of $6 million, which makes it one of the most lucrative races on the international calendar.
This year’s betting is dominated by John Sadler’s exciting four-year-old Flightline. The star boasts a perfect record and has progressed excellently throughout this season. He was stepped up to 1 ¼ miles for the first time in the G1 Pacific Classic and was a sensational 19-length winner over Country Grammer.
However, the Classic always boasts one of the most interesting fields in racing. Life Is Good is looking back to his very best and is a multiple Grade 1 winner, while Epicenter stormed to success in the G1 Travers on his final prep start. More Grade 1 winners will be found at huge prices in the betting, including Taiba, Hot Rod Charlie, and Cyberknife.
The Breeders’ Cup is one of the most exciting periods of the year from a betting standpoint, as all leading online sportsbooks will cover every race taking place at Keeneland. Wagers can be placed on each individual race by using the Win, Each-Way, and Place markets.
Meanwhile, exotic markets such as the Exacta, Trifecta, and reverse Exacta/Trifecta can also be found. Bets can also be placed on multiple markets, such as parlays and Lucky 15s. However, extensive research must be carried out before betting on any race taking place at the Breeders’ Cup.
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