All 14 races at 2022 Breeders’ Cup: Top picks include Flightline, Kinross, Jackie’s Warrior and more

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When jockeys are in the starting gate, you often hear the starter tell them “Let’s get tied on,” which means they should be ready for the gate to spring open. For people who bet on horse races, the Breeders’ Cup represents the greatest opportunity to “get tied on” in the entire year. Where else will you have two days of 14 world championship races, with large fields and great betting opportunities? Those opportunities are large, as I found out first-hand in 1993, cashing on Arcangues, who was 133-1, representing the biggest winning longshot in the history of the event. It’s a giant jigsaw puzzle, and for every handicapper who has had great Breeders’ Cups, you can be sure that they’ve had some bad ones, as well.  However, we all like taking a shot at the big event, so using the model of Top Pick, Value Pick, and Long Shot, here’s a look at all 14 races and the horses that have caught my fancy in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup.

RELATED: How to watch Breeders’ Cup Classic 2022: Live stream online, TV channel, start time

Friday Races at 2022 Breeders’ Cup

Juvenile Turf Sprint

Top Pick – THE PLATINUM QUEEN (12)

British trainer Richard Fahey has put this one through her paces, including beating older horses in the Prix de l’Abbaye, which usually features the top sprinters in Europe. The performance record of this one has me betting her with confidence.

Value Pick – PERSIAN FORCE (6)

Here’s another strong one from England. The Richard Hannon-trained colt has had 4 consecutive strong performances in top-level European sprint races.

Long Shot – LOVE REIGNS (2)

Huge performance breaking her maiden on the Keeneland course. Also has an impressive win in a Saratoga stakes race for trainer Wesley Ward, a turf sprint expert.

Juvenile Fillies

Top Pick – CHOCOLATE GELATO (10)

Hello, Todd Pletcher. He’s always good with 2-year-olds, and this expensive yearling had a great maiden win at Saratoga which she followed up by winning the Frizette on a sloppy track at Aqueduct. It’s a close race, but she gets the advantage.

Value Pick – RAGING SEA (14)

This Chad Brown trainee posted a nice win at Saratoga before getting involved in a “bumper-cars” finish in the Alcibiades at Keeneland. She was disqualified from 3rd to 4th in the race, but she looks like an improving type.

Long Shot – ATOMICALLY (8)

This is Pletcher’s second-string entrant here, but she has posted big scores against Florida-breds in her last two starts. Could hit the board or produce an upset score.

Juvenile Fillies Turf

Top Pick – MEDIATE (10)

An Aidan O’Brian trainee who has finished 1st or 2nd in five consecutive top-graded races for 2-year-old fillies in England and Ireland. Might have the class edge here.

Value Pick – BE YOUR BEST (6)

Young trainer on the rise Horacio DePaz has had back-to-back career-best years. This filly was an impressive winner of the P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga and followed that up by finishing 3rd on a yielding course at Aqueduct in the Miss Grillo. Should hit the board.

Long Shot – DELIGHT (9)

This one was sold for $400,000 as a 2-year-old, and she seems to be coming into her own in her last two races. Her closing win in the Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland was visually impressive.

Juvenile

Top Pick – CAVE ROCK (3)

Baffert is back, and in a big way. This one posted wins by over 5 lengths in each of his 3 starts. Will be a short price, but he deserves it.

Value Pick – NATIONAL TREASURE (10)

$500,000 yearling purchase who was 2nd to his stablemate (Cave Rock) in the American Pharoah Stakes in his last start. He could be 2nd best here, as well.

Long Shot – VERIFYING (5)

Son of Justify who was purchased for $775,000 as a yearling. Trainer Brad Cox has seen him produce a maiden win in his first start, and then he was 2nd in the slop in the Champagne Stakes. Has a license to improve.

Juvenile Turf

Top Pick – VICTORIA ROAD (1)

Will not be favored in the race but has a classic Aidan O’Brien profile for the Breeders’ Cup. Has won his last 3, and has all the marks of a rapidly improving horse.

Value Pick – SILVER KNOTT (4)

Godolphin runner has the experience of 5 races behind him. Has won 3 of last 4, but his only loss of those was on a soft course.  Keeneland should be more to his liking. I expect he’ll be a better price than the 3-1 morning line.

Long Shot – PACKS A WAHLOP (2)

Has won his last 3 for dangerous trainer Jeff Mullins, including his last two in stakes races around two turns. Will be on the pace and dangerous here.

RELATED: The Breeders’ Cup: From Experiment to Tradition

Saturday races at 2022 Breeders’ Cup

Filly & Mare Sprint

Top Pick – ECHO ZULU (13)

Dominant speed. A winner of 6 of 7, her only loss was in the Kentucky Oaks, which might’ve been too long for her. Her return race in the Dogwood Stakes shows that she’s back to her best form.

Value Pick – GOODNIGHT OLIVE (8)

Chad Brown trainee has posted 5 wins and a second in 6 starts. Last time out, handled her first effort in Grade 1 company brilliantly, with an impressive score in the Ballerina at Saratoga. Would not be surprised at all if she took the first prize.

Long Shot – OBLIGATORY (7)

This Bill Mott filly could be closing down the lane in the Juddmonte colors. Should be a nice price at the windows.

Turf Sprint

Top Pick – HIGHFIELD PRINCESS (6)

American fans may love Golden Pal, but this filly has won 3 consecutive Group 1 sprint stakes in 3 different countries. Should beat America’s best.

Value Pick – GOLDEN PAL (8)

America’s best, he has posted 8 wins and 2 seconds from 12 starts. The horse that Wesley Ward calls the best he has ever trained might run into a buzzsaw here in Highfield Princess.

Long Shot – CAMPANELLE (4)

It’s easy to forget how truly accomplished Wesley Ward’s second-string horse is here. In an incredible 2-year-old season, she took down a stakes race at Royal Ascot before scoring in the prestigious Prix Morny in France. This year, she has won two stakes races in Kentucky and lost by less than a length in the Group 1 Platinum Jubilee at Royal Ascot. A solid closer.

Dirt Mile

Top Pick – CODY’S WISH (7)

I always have trouble handicapping the Dirt Mile, but I’ve landed on Cody’s Wish. He has won 6 of his last 7 for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. Seems to be rounding into his best form for this one.

Value Pick – LAUREL RIVER (6)

Three consecutive wins coming into this one for Baffert. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he won the whole thing.

Long Shot – PIPELINE (3)

Third to Cody’s Wish and Jackie’s Warrior in the prestigious Forego Stakes at Saratoga, this one shows he can compete at the highest level. Although he’s never won a graded stakes, he’ll be a solid bet in trifecta and superfecta tickets.

RELATED: What to know about the 2022 Breeders’ Cup World Championships

Filly & Mare Turf

Top Pick – NASHWA (3)

What would a Breeders’ Cup be without a truly classy runner from John Gosden? This one has wins this year in the French Oaks and the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood in England. Her last effort was a second on a very soft course at Longchamp in the Prix de l’Opera. Should like the firmer ground in Kentucky.

Value Pick – TUESDAY (5)

Aidan O’Brien runner was plagued by soft courses in France in his last 2. Has been competitive all year when racing with the best 3-year-old fillies in Europe.  Has a very solid chance here.

Long Shot – ABOVE THE CURVE (4)

This might be the most valuable long shot in the entire Breeders’ Cup. Already a Group 1 winner in France this year, she finished a nose behind Nashwa in the Prix de l’Opera in her last start.  Should be a juicy price against a tough field.

Sprint

Top Pick – JACKIE’S WARRIOR (9)

Among true fans of the sport, this one might be America’s favorite horse. Purchased for a modest $95,000 as a yearling, he’s earned nearly $2.8 million as one of the top sprinters in the country for the past few years. Probably the best bet of the day is that if “Jackie” wins, trainer Steve Asmussen will be in tears in the winner’s circle. He’s the darling of the Asmussen barn, and nothing would make them happier than to see him go to his retirement with a front-running win in the Breeders’ Cup.

Value Pick – AMERICAN THEOREM (4)

Son of American Pharoah seems to be at his best when sprinting. His last two races were a win in the Bing Crosby Stakes and a second in the Pat O’Brien. Both of these races were a leap forward for him, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the pattern continue here.

Long Shot – KIMARI (2)

Wesley Ward has so many good sprinters in his barn that this one seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle. Her last two races, however, have been outstanding wins on the New York circuit, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the pattern continue.

Mile

Top Pick – KINROSS (13)

This one is my BEST BET of the entire Breeders’ Cup. He has blossomed as a 5-year-old, and he enters on a streak of 4 stakes wins in a row. The most impressive was the Prix de la Foret, a race that has a history as a prep race for the Mile, with winners such as the great Goldikova winning it in the past. His turn of foot in the final furlong of that race was very impressive, and I feel that American fans may not fully appreciate how good he’s gotten.

Value Pick – MODERN GAMES (4)

Legitimate contender who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last year despite being mistakenly scratched by track officials when they confused him with his stablemate. This year, he’s won the French 2,000 Guineas and had a smashing win in the Woodbine Mile. His legitimacy in this spot is unquestionable.

Long Shot – REGAL GLORY (8)

Chad Brown trainee enters with 5 wins and 3 seconds in her last 8 starts. Always gives a solid effort, but I don’t think she’s as strong as Kinross or Modern Games.

Distaff

Top Pick – NEST (6)

The biggest handicapping debate of the week will probably be Nest vs. Malathaat. I lean toward Nest because of her tendency to blow fields away. Her last 3 starts were won on the New York circuit by margins averaging about 8 ¾ lengths. She has 6 wins and 2 seconds in her last 8, and the 2nd place finishes were in the Kentucky Oaks and Belmont Stakes. I think she’s in peak form right now.

Value Pick – MALATHAAT (1)

Doesn’t have the dynamic turn of foot that Nest has, but she usually gets the job done. Career record in 13 starts is 9 wins, 3 seconds and 1 third. It’s rare that a Kentucky Oaks winner who has never finished out of the money is not favored, but it may happen here.

Long Shot – SOCIETY (8)

This one represents the next generation of U.S. fillies. A winner of 5 of 6 lifetime, she is sired by Gun Runner and the mare that produced her is by Tapit. Breeding doesn’t get much better than that, and the fact that she is a 3-year-old facing older horses for the first time will produce good odds. An upset is not out of the question.

Turf

Top Pick – NATIONS PRIDE (7)

Godolphin runner is a proven factor against U.S. horses, having 2 wins and a second in 3 races in the states this year. A strong 3-year-old on the rise, he won his only start at this distance by a large margin.

Value Pick – WAR LIKE GODDESS (2)

Beaten by a half-length in last year’s Filly & Mare Turf, trainer Bill Mott has entered her against the boys this year, feeling that the longer distance will be more to her liking. To prove that she’s ready, her last race was a powerful win against males in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, going the same mile and a half that she will have to travel in this race. It was hard to separate the top two.

Long Shot – MASTER PIECE (8)

War Like Goddess is the best closer in the field, but as she makes her move, this one should be right on her tail. Might be a 20-1 price or more at the windows.

Breeders’ Cup Classic

Top Pick – FLIGHTLINE (4)

The undefeated and future King! Will be a huge favorite, and I see no way he can be beaten.

Value Pick – EPICENTER (6)

In 9 races at a mile or more, he has posted 6 wins and 3 seconds. If Rich Strike didn’t run the race of his life, Epicenter would be the Kentucky Derby winner. It’s a shame that such a reliable horse has to run into Flightline in this spot.

Long Shot – LIFE IS GOOD (2)

Another truly great horse who has had the misfortune to end up in the same race as Flightline.  A winner of 9 of 11, the only question mark is the mile and a quarter he’ll have to travel in this spot.  He may not win here, but he won’t embarrass himself.

The Challenge

Now you know the horses I am betting in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup. You can bet them if you like, but I would prefer that you go through your own handicapping process. Handicapping opportunities like this are rare, and you should enjoy the challenge of the process. Picking winners is not easy, but when you succeed against 14 races like this, you feel like you are on top of the world!

How to Watch the 2022 Breeders’ Cup

NBC Sports is home to the 39th Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Coverage begins today, Friday, Nov. 4 from 2 to 6 p.m. ET on USA Network and resumes on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 1 pm ET on USA Network before jumping to NBC and Peacock from 3:30 to 6 p.m. ET.

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.”