What to know about the 2022 Breeders’ Cup World Championships

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The horse racing world closes out a thrilling year with the 39th edition of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland, with coverage exclusively across NBC, USA Network, NBCSports.com and Peacock.

What is the Breeders’ Cup World Championships?

The Breeders’ Cup is horse racing’s last hurrah of the year. Horses from around the globe will compete in 14 races over two days, with the Breeders’ Cup Classic closing out the weekend.

The Breeders’ Cup originated in 1984 as a year-end championship for North American Thoroughbred horses and their breeders. The brainchild of the late John Gaines, the former owner of Gainesway Farm, the Breeders’ Cup was built by Thoroughbred breeders, for Thoroughbred breeders.

In 2007, the Breeders’ Cup was expanded from one day to two. Now, the first day of the weekend is called Future Stars Friday, with many of racing’s most promising colts and fillies running on both the dirt and the turf. Championship Saturday will give out more than $22 million in purse money over nine races, including the $6 million Classic.

Related: How to watch every single Breeders’ Cup race

When and where is the 2022 Breeders’ Cup?

The Breeders’ Cup runs from November 4-5. Friday’s coverage goes from 2 to 6 p.m. ET, and Saturday’s coverage runs from 1 to 6 p.m. ET. Post time for the Breeders’ Cup Classic is tentatively set for 5:40 p.m ET.

The Breeders’ Cup changes tracks every year, with Keeneland hosting for the third time in seven years (most recently in 2020). Located in Lexington, Kentucky, Keeneland is designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark for its role in the growth of horse racing and is considered one of the best tracks in the entire country.

How to watch the Breeders’ Cup: 

NBC Sports is home to the 2022 Breeders’ Cup, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app before, during and after. Much of Saturday’s coverage, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will also be available on Peacock.

Friday: Coverage kicks off with Future Stars Friday on November 4th, from 2 to 6 p.m. ET on USA Network, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Saturday: Coverage resumes November 5th on USA Network, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET, with the broadcast jumping to NBC and Peacock from 3:30-6 p.m. ET.

How are horses picked for the Breeders’ Cup? 

Horses must be nominated to race in any Breeders’ Cup event. Stallions at stud who are nominated then pass that nomination down to their foals, meaning any offspring of a nominated stallion is eligible to run in a Breeders’ Cup race. Each year, the stallion’s nomination costs as much as his advertised breeding fee and will cover up to the first 50 foals the stallion produces that year before the fee goes up. Foals can also be nominated individually at $400 each, and stallions standing abroad are also eligible. These funds contribute to the Breeders’ Cup purses and go back into the host track.

However, just because a horse is nominated doesn’t mean they’ll run in the Breeders’ Cup.

The “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is a series of Breeders’ Cup qualifying races that gives the winner an automatic entry into the relevant Breeders’ Cup race (with entry fees paid).

Horses who didn’t get in through a Challenge Series race accumulate points throughout the season by finishing graded races in the money, and the horses with the most points at the end of the season will fill the remaining spots. The final spots in each race will be filled via selection by a panel of experts.

Related: From experiment to history: The history of the Breeders’ Cup

What is the full schedule for the Breeders’ Cup?

The Breeders’ Cup features a total of 14 races contested across two days the first weekend in November.

Friday, Nov. 4 schedule

  • Juvenile Turf Sprint (Post time: 3:00 p.m. ET) – $1 million purse
  • Juvenile Fillies (Post time: 3:40 p.m. ET) – $2 million purse
  • Juvenile Fillies Turf (Post time: 4:20 p.m. ET) – $1 million purse
  • Juvenile (Post time: 5:00 p.m. ET) – $2 million purse
  • Juvenile Turf (Post time: 5:40 p.m. ET) – $1 million purse

Saturday, Nov. 5 schedule 

  • Filly and Mare Sprint (Post time: 11:50 a.m. ET) – $1 million purse
  • Turf Sprint (Post time: 12:29 p.m. ET) – $1 million purse
  • Dirt Mile (Post time: 1:10 p.m. ET) – $1 million purse
  • Filly and Mare Turf (Post time: 1:50 p.m. ET) – $2 million purse
  • Sprint (Post time: 2:30 p.m. ET) – $2 million purse
  • Mile (Post time: 3:10 p.m. ET) – $2 million purse
  • Distaff (Post time: 3:55 p.m. ET) – $2 million purse
  • Turf (Post time: 4:40 p.m. ET) – $4 million purse
  • Classic (Post time: 5:40 p.m. ET) – $6 million purse

What is the Breeders’ Cup Classic? 

The $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic is the marquee event of the weekend. At 1 1/4 miles long, the Classic has a field of up to 14 horses that must be at least 3 years old. Breeders’ Cup Classic winners have a history of going on to win Horse of the Year, including Knicks Go (2021), Authentic (2020), Curlin (2007) and Cigar (1995)

The last time the Breeders’ Cup was held at Keeneland, Bob Baffert’s Authentic won the Breeders’ Cup Classic by 2 1/4 lengths, becoming just the fourth horse ever to win the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic in the same year.

Who are the horses to watch in the Breeders’ Cup Classic?

John Sadler’s undefeated Flightline comes into the race as the expected heavy favorite to win. The 4-year-old colt got 2022 started with a win in the Met Mile by 6 lengths. He followed that effort up with a dominant performance in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, winning the race by an astounding 19-and-a-quarter lengths.

While many anticipate Flightline to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he does have some intriguing potential challengers. Taiba, trained by Bob Baffert, may have the most upside to defeat Flightline after a convincing three-length win over the likes of Cyberknife, Zandon and Skippylongstocking in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby.

Another expected threat to win could be consistent runner Epicenter. The Steve Asmussen-trained colt earned an impressive win at the Travers Stakes by beating a strong field consisting of 2022 Triple Crown winners by five-and-a-quarter lengths.

Speaking of Triple Crown winners, 2022 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike is expected to be in the field and is coming off a strong performance at the Lukas Classic. The winner of the Lukas Classic, Hot Rod Charlie, is also expected to be in the field and will look to avenge his fourth-place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Watch NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2022 Breeders’ Cup starting with Future Stars Friday on Nov. 4 from 2-6 p.m. ET (USA Network) and continuing with Championship Saturday on Nov. 5 from 1-6 p.m. ET (USA Network until 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock from 3:30-6 p.m. ET).

Big Event Weekend on NBC and Peacock

The Breeders’ Cup is part of a weekend of must-watch events November 5th and 6th on NBC and Peacock. Tune in to the Breeders’ Cup Saturday at 3:30pm Eastern, followed by Notre Dame Football taking on Clemson at home and Amy Schumer hosting Saturday Night Live. The action continues Sunday with the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at 3 p.m. and the Titans battling the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football starting at 7 p.m., all on NBC and Peacock.

Big Event Weekend

Flightline, Pletcher, Godolphin lead way at Eclipse Awards

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PALM BEACH, Fla. — Flightline ran away in all six of his races, and ran away with top honors at the Eclipse Awards on Thursday night.

And trainer Todd Pletcher, for the first time in nearly a decade, received the sport’s top prize as well.

Flightline – the now-retired winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to cap an unbeaten six-race career – won Horse of the Year as well as the Eclipse as top Older Dirt Male. It was no surprise that Flightline took home both awards, and he’s now standing stud.

“We’ll hope that his future is as bright as his past,” co-owner Kosta Hronis said.

Godolphin was also a double winner, sweeping the Eclipses as top owner and top breeder for the second consecutive year. It was also the third consecutive top-owner Eclipse for Godolphin.

“This is truly a golden era for Godolphin racing,” said Michael Banahan, the stable’s director of bloodstock. “And these awards and accolades recognize how special it is.”

It was Pletcher’s eighth Eclipse, extending his record for the most by any trainer, and his first since 2014. It was one of the few close races in the voting; Pletcher got 108 first-place votes, while four-time Eclipse winner Chad Brown got 95 and finished second.

“This really is not an individual award. This is a team award,” Pletcher said. “This is an award about the owners, and most importantly, the horses.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. won the Eclipse as top jockey for the fourth time in the last five years; he tied Pat Day and Javier Castellano for third-most in history, behind only seven-time winner Jerry Bailey and five-time winner Laffit Pincay Jr.

Ortiz led all jockeys with more than $37 million in purses in 2022.

“Wow,” Ortiz said. “It’s been an amazing year for me.”

Forte won the Eclipse as 2-year-old male, and will enter this year’s Triple Crown season as one of the early favorites.

“We’re all in this game for a horse like Forte,” said Mike Repole, the horse’s co-owner along with Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola and Teresa Viola. “We’re all in this game to one day maybe own a 2-year-old that has a chance. It’s great to have the Kentucky Derby favorite. … Forte’s an incredible horse.”

Epicenter won the 3-year-old male Eclipse, after running second at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, then winning the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga over the summer.

Wonder Wheel was the winner as 2-year-old filly, while Nest won the Eclipse in the 3-year-old filly division. Malathaat was the Eclipse winner for older dirt female, Goodnight Olive for female sprinter and Regal Glory for female turf horse.

Elite Power was picked as the top male sprinter, Modern Games won the Eclipse for male turf horse, and Hewick was the Eclipse winner in the steeplechase division.

Jose Antonio Gomez won as top apprentice jockey.

The Eclipse Awards are voted on by members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters.

Trainer Bob Baffert’s ban from racing in New York is over

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Courier Journal/USA TODAY Sports
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Bob Baffert can once again enter horses at New York’s major tracks.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s one-year ban by the New York Racing Association ended Wednesday, allowing him to enter horses as soon as Thursday.

“I was disappointed they even did it, but it’s water under the bridge,” Baffert told The Associated Press by phone.

He was suspended last June for repeated medication violations, although none of them occurred in New York. He was barred from Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. A panel credited Baffert for time served for an initial suspension, which allowed him to return this week.

Aqueduct is currently holding its 44-day winter meet that runs through March 26. Baffert doesn’t typically run horses this time of year in New York; he targets the biggest stakes races at Belmont in the spring and Saratoga in the summer.

Baffert remains under a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc., which sidelined him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance that is not allowed on race day. The penalty expires shortly after the Kentucky Derby in May. However, Baffert is fighting the suspension in federal court.

The Southern California-based trainer has a big weekend coming up around the country, although not in New York.

He has horses running at three tracks on Saturday.

Defunded is entered in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream in Florida, where Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes will be on hand.

Arabian Knight goes into the $750,000 Southwest Stakes as the early favorite at Oaklawn in Arkansas. Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby prep race a record-tying five times and will travel to Hot Springs to watch the 3-year-old colt.

“It’s going to be a good test for him. The only way to find out is to run him long,” he said. “It’s going to take a superior horse to do that and I’m hoping that he is.”

The Southwest offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top five finishers. Arabian Knight won’t receive any points regardless of his placing because of Baffert’s Derby ban.

Hopper will run in the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

On Sunday at the same track, Baffert has entered four of the five horses set to run in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds.