Here's a Primer for the 2022 Breeders' Cup Classic

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The year-end, horse racing event boasts a trim field, stocked with winners vying for the largest purse of the season.

This weekend, the Breeders’ Cup Series is being held at Keeneland racecourse, in Lexington, Kentucky, a two-day event that stages a variety of races to determine the final champion horse in 14 categories. The event culminates with the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the big prize for 3-year-olds and up on the mile-and-a-quarter dirt course. 


Among the richest races in the world with a $6 million purse, the Breeders’ Classic has been added to what is now considered in horse racing as the last leg of the Grand Slam – something accomplished by American Pharoah at this same track in 2015. The Classic is usually a tough race to call, as the competition is almost uniformly high grade, but this year sees a notable favorite in the group. 

Here is the eight-horse field, by gate position, for today’s championship:

  1. Taiba 8-1   The entrant from now-controversial  trainer Bob Baffert. Taiba has had an impressive schedule with three wins, including the Santa Anita and Pennsylvania Derbies, and a second place finish, but a disappointing 12th at the Kentucky Derby.
  2. Life Is Good 6-1   The 4-year-old has had a sterling year, winning four times beginning with January’s Pegasus World Cup in Florida, and up to the Woodward Stakes last month in slop, held at The Aqueduct. The only blemish was fourth place at the Dubai World Cup in March.
  3. Happy Saver 30-1  Going off as today’s longshot, Todd Pletcher’s horse has a career of being in the money, but falling just shy of winning. After a series of wins as a colt, the past two seasons have been frustrating, with the last win seen in the summer of 2021, then three second-place finishes and one show in 2022.
  4. Flightline 3-5  This year’s overwhelming favorite is a blazing horse with a limited resume, as some injuries caused delays. But anytime he has shown up, he blows the doors off the course. The 5-0 record is impressive, considering the lengths he takes to the finish. A bruised foot saw owners keeping Flightline out of the Triple Crown races, but in September, a 20-length win at the TVG Pacific Classic solidified the impressive favorite.
  5. Hot Rod Charlie 15-1 Another 4-year-old who is always a threat, but has shown mixed results with close finishes, he sports two wins in five races this year–the last came a month ago at the Lukas Classic held at Churchill Downs.
  6. Epicenter 5-1   Probably the second favorite winner in this collection, with an impressive 2022 season of seven races–with four wins and three show finishes, including the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
  7. Olympiad 10-1 Sporting six wins with a heavy racing schedule, the only reason he is not receiving more touts is the limited amount on Grade-1 races. But Olympiad’s winning two Breeders’ Cup qualifiers makes him a threatening entrant. 
  8. Rich Strike 20-1  The historic, upset winner of the Kentucky Derby remains a longshot in the race, despite other strong runs. A sixth place at The Belmont was followed by a fourth at the Travers Stakes, and a second place at The Lucas Classic.


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