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


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


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.


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.


$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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Florida Derby 2023: How to watch, what to know ahead of race day


The stakes are high on the road to the Kentucky Derby, as a field of 12 will vie for $1 million and precious qualifying points at the Curlin Florida Derby on Saturday, April 1 on  CNBC and Peacock. The winner of the race will receive 100 of these points with the runner-up getting 40, the third-place runner receiving 30, the fourth-place finisher receiving 20 and the fifth-place horse receiving 10.

NBC Sports has you covered with everything you need to know about Saturday’s race, which will get underway Saturday at 6 p.m. EST, airing on CNBC and streaming on Peacock. 

Who will be racing at the Florida Derby?

  • Jungfrau
    • Bill Mott (trainer), Paco Lopez (jockey)
  • West Coast Cowboy
    • Saffie Joseph Jr. (trainer), Sonny Leon (jockey)
  • Shaq Diesel
    • Renaldo Richards (trainer), Miguel Vasquez (jockey)
  • Mage
    • Gustavo Delgado (trainer), Luis Saez (jockey)
  • Mr. Peeks
    • Saffie Joseph Jr. (trainer), Edwin Gonzalez (jockey)
  • Nautical Star
    • Saffie Joseph Jr. (trainer), Leonel Reyes (jockey)
  • II Miracolo
    • Antonio Sano (trainer), Jesus Rios (jockey)
  • Mr. Ripple
    • Saffie Joseph Jr. (trainer), Edgard Zayas (jockey)
  • Cyclone Mischief
    • Dale Romans (trainer), Javier Castellano (jockey)
  • Fort Bragg
    • Tim Yakteen (trainer), Joel Rosario (jockey)
  • Forte
    • Todd Pletcher (trainer), Irad Ortiz Jr. (jockey)
  • Dubyuhnell
    • Danny Gargan (trainer), Jose Ortiz (jockey)

Who is the favorite for the Florida Derby?

All eyes will be on the reigning two-year-old champion Forte come Saturday, who has earned 90 points to date and won five of his six career starts. His 2023 campaign got off to a quick start after taking the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream by 4 1/2 lengths on March 4 in his 3-year-old debut. His other recent wins include triumphs at the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

The 4/5 morning line favorite and trainer Todd Pletcher, however, will have some obstacles in the way as they look to continue the charge to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. As Pletcher looks to extend his streak to a record-setting seven wins, he’ll need Forte to overcome a post position 11 at Gulfstream Park.

Horses who have drawn post position 11 at the Florida Derby distance of 1 1/8 miles since Gulfstream was reconfigured in 2006 have come away with the crown a mere 2 of 50 times.

RELATED: Forte seems dominant ahead of Florida Derby prep race

What should I look for come race day?

The unlucky post position for the favorite Forte opens the door for other contenders, such as Fort Bragg and Cyclone Mischief.

Fort Bragg, who was initially slated to race at last weekend’s Sunland Derby before re-routing to Gulfstream, will be making his second start for Tim Yakteen. The $700,000 purchase is coming off a fifth-place finish at the Fountain of Youth on March 4 and is 5-1 on the morning line for Florida under Forte.

RELATED: Arabian Knight off Kentucky Derby trail; will return later

Not far behind, however, is Cyclone Mischief, who displayed an encouraging performance at the Fountain of Youth, holding a lead for the first mile before falling to third. The three-year-old and his trainer, Dale Romans, will look to cause a bit more havoc at Gulfstream and earn valuable points to keep the hopes for Louisville alive.

Others to keep an eye on come race time include Mage, who has a total of 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points and West Coast Cowboy, who currently sits with six.

RELATED: Kingsbarns has a chance to improve before the Kentucky Derby

How can I watch the Florida Derby?

  • Date: Saturday, April 1st
  • Time: 6 p.m. EST
  • TV Network: CNBC
  • Streaming: Peacock

When is the 2023 Kentucky Derby?

The 2023 Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 6th, and will air across the networks of NBC Sports and Peacock.

For more horse racing coverage and the latest on the road to the Kentucky Derby, visit

Road to the Kentucky Derby: Forte seems dominant ahead of Florida Derby prep race


The numbers speak for themselves. Horses trained by Todd Pletcher have earned more purse money (over $455 million) than those trained by any other person in the history of thoroughbred racing. He has won with an impressive 23% of his starters, and 52% have finished first, second or third.

When it comes to the Kentucky Derby, however, Pletcher becomes a mere mortal. From 62 career starters, he has won the race twice, with two seconds, and four horses who finished 3rd. Many of Pletcher’s Derby horses were longshots who were in the race primarily so their owners could have a horse in America’s biggest race. His two Derby winners, while they were reasonably backed at the windows, were far from odds-on favorites. When Super Saver won in 2010, he paid $18.00 for a $2 win ticket. Always Dreaming, his 2017 winner, was a very lukewarm favorite who returned $11.40 to win.  Many racing fans are used to seeing Pletcher’s horses win at short odds, primarily in New York and Florida. They might be shocked to find out that when Always Dreaming won the 2017 Derby, he was the shortest-odds horse that Pletcher had ever saddled in the Kentucky Derby, despite having odds just under 5-1.

RELATED: Kingsbarns goes wire-to-wire in Louisiana Derby

This Saturday, he will saddle Forte in the Florida Derby. Forte will enter the race on a four-race win streak, with those wins coming in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes. He is a 4/5 morning line favorite, and if he wins the race, he should move forward to Louisville as a very strong favorite for the Kentucky Derby. Clearly, he would be the shortest-priced horse Pletcher has ever had in the race, but that almost wasn’t the case.

In 2010, we know that Pletcher scored a mild upset in the Kentucky Derby with Super Saver. He was definitely not the best three-year-old in Pletcher’s barn. That year, he had a horse named Eskendereya, who seemed as unbeatable as Forte does now. He was set to enter the Derby off a three-race win streak. That streak included an 8 ½ length victory in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and a 9 ¾ length win in the Wood Memorial. The Pletcher barn was devastated when Eskendereya suffered a career-ending leg injury in training one week before the Kentucky Derby. So, instead of saddling the big favorite in the race, he took his shot with four other horses. As the chart tells us, Super Saver benefitted from a rail-skimming ride by Calvin Borel and gave Pletcher his first Derby winner.

As far as I am concerned, any discussion of Forte and the Florida Derby should begin with the concept of professionalism in a racehorse. In one respect you can call him more professional than (dare I say?) Secretariat. Big Red was brilliant, and he showed the ability to win on the engine and from off the pace. Forte’s three career races around two turns, however, are a virtual carbon copy of each other.

As a two-year-old, in the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, he was in fifth place after six furlongs, sitting 2 ½ lengths off the lead, and he went on to win by a neck. That race set him up for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. In the Juvenile, he was again in fifth after six furlongs, sitting four lengths off the lead before he went on to win by 1 ½ lengths. It’s been said that race horses mature the most between ages two and three, and Forte’s only race this year showed that maturity. In the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream, he was in fourth after six furlongs, sitting about two lengths off the lead, and then he blew by the field, going on to win by 4 ½ lengths.

RELATED: Arabian Knight off Kentucky Derby trail; will return later

This concept of professionalism in a racehorse is based in part on how well the game plan of the trainer is executed by the horse. Forte is a horse that has clearly used his fast cruising speed and his ability to relax off the pace to his advantage. Looking at those three wins he posted around two turns, they show that Forte’s natural ability allows him to idle like a Cadillac behind front-runners, and he has a growing ability to pass his competition on the far turn and power through the stretch on his way to victory. The Pletcher game plan, nurtured through the experience of 62 starts in America’s most important race, has been very convincing thus far.

Working in Forte’s favor even more is the fact that there are several horses in the race who tend to run on the front end, which should set up jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. to make Forte’s signature move to the lead as the front-runners start to tire. Skeptics might point to Forte’s journey from the #11 post as a reason to think he might have a problem here, but the fact that he relaxes in races and has a high cruising speed should allow Ortiz to get a mid-pack position to pounce from.

As for the rest of the field, the two most likely to finish underneath Forte in exotic wagers are Fort Bragg and Cyclone Mischief. Fort Bragg is a horse who sold for $700,000 as a yearling. He was formerly trained by Bob Baffert and has been transferred to the care of Tim Yakteen. He should be near the front end early and is likely to have the class to last longer that some of the other forwardly-placed runners.  Another who has a good chance to hit the board is the Dale Romans-trained Cyclone Mischief. He has raced against some of the top horses of his age group and was third to Forte in the Fountain of Youth, beaten by nearly 6 lengths. Although he was on the lead in that race, I expect him to sit a couple of lengths off the pace here. There are two longer-priced entries here that could hit the board to fill out some tickets. They are the lightly-raced Mage (fourth in the Fountain of Youth with a troubled trip) and West Coast Cowboy, who has tried hard in all three career races and is 20-1 on the morning line.

RELATED: Two Phil’s dominates Jeff Ruby Steaks

For those who think they might be able to beat Forte, consider Todd Pletcher’s record in the Florida Derby. He is the leading trainer in the history of the race with six wins, and five of those have been in the last nine years.

If there is a theme to the Derby prep season thus far, it is Pletcher, Pletcher, Pletcher. In addition to Forte, he trains Kingsbarns, the front-running winner of the Louisiana Derby, and Tampa Bay Derby winner Tapit Trice. Tapit Trice, who will run in the Blue Grass Stakes on NBC a week from Saturday, is an intriguing horse who won the Tampa Bay Derby with come-from-behind style. As talented as Forte is, we don’t know how talented Tapit Trice can be, as he seems to mature more with each start. At Tampa Bay, he was eighth in the middle of the stretch and got home to win by an easy two lengths. He is an 8-1 second choice in the most recent Derby futures pool, with Forte favored at 3-1.

It is always fascinating when the early Derby favorite has his final prep race. We’ll have to sit back and watch on Saturday to determine whether Forte will continue his dominance or if he will hit a bump in the road. His talent and his ability to duplicate his running style from race to race lead me to think that his growth and maturity will continue to be on display in the Florida Derby, and he’ll advance to Kentucky a huge favorite for America’s biggest race.

How to Watch the Florida Derby

  • Date: Saturday, April 1st
  • Time: 6pm ET
  • TV Network: CNBC
  • Streaming: Peacock

When is the 2023 Kentucky Derby?

The 149th Kentucky Derby is set for Saturday, May 6th, and will air across the networks of NBC and Peacock.