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

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

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NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”

Fractional interest in Flightline sells for $4.6 million

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keeneland says a 2.5% fractional interest in Breeders’ Cup Classic champion Flightline has sold for $4.6 million during a special auction before the start of its November Breeding Stock Sale.

Brookdale Farm’s Freddy Seitz signed the ticket for an undisclosed client, the track announced in a release. The sale comes a day after ownership of the 4-year-old son of Tapit retired the unbeaten colt following his record 8\-length victory in Saturday’s $6 million, Grade 1 Classic at Keeneland. Flightline likely locked up Horse of the Year honors with his fourth Grade 1 victory in six starts by a combined victory margin of 71 lengths – dominance that has drawn comparisons to legendary Triple Crown champion Secretariat.

Flightline will begin his breeding career next year at Lane’s End Farms in Versailles, Kentucky, but a stud fee has yet to be determined. West Point Thoroughbreds, part of the bay colt’s ownership, offered the fractional interest. Seitz said the buyer wanted to “make a big splash” and get more involved in the business.

“With a special horse like (Flightline) all you can do is get involved and then just hope for the best,” Seitz said in the release.

“There has never been a horse that has done what he has done for however many years, back to Secretariat. You just have to pay up and get involved, and this is kind of what he’s thinking.”