Classic

The horse racing season ends later in the year at the prestigious Breeders’ Cup. This year’s event will be held at the iconic Keeneland racetrack, with the featured race of the two-day meet being the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be held on Saturday, November 5.

Like the Race at Road America, this year’s renewal could be the most open for generations, with no leading three-year-old this season likely to be a realistic contender. But, who are some of the horses that could stand leading chances to follow in the footsteps of legends such as American Pharoah, Zenyatta, and Curlin?

Flightline

The clear favorite in the current betting is Flightline, who looks like a potential superstar for trainer John Sadler. The four-year-old has only made four previous career starts and gave the Kentucky Derby trail a wide berth throughout the 2021 season. After easy wins in claimers, he was stepped up into graded company for the first time in December, and he didn’t disappoint.

He finished well clear over seven furlongs in the G1 Malibu before facing a bigger test on his return in June. That latest win came over a mile in the G1 Metropolitan, as he looked as strong as ever when holding off Happy Saver and Speaker’s Corner. However, it could still be worth taking him on at present, as he is unproven over the Classic distance of 1 ½ miles.

Life Is Good

Life Is Good could easily be the most backable horse in the race for trainer Todd Pletcher. Pletcher’s only previous win in this race came with Vino Rosso in 2019, but Life Is Good ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to the renewal this year. 

He was originally pointed towards the Kentucky Derby last year but was forced to miss all three Triple Crown races through injury. He returned in August at Saratoga, where Jackie’s Warrior narrowly denied him over seven furlongs. 

However, he ended the 2021 campaign in dominant form over a mile, winning the G2 Kelso Handicap and G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile by a combined ten lengths.

Still, there were doubts surrounding his ability over an extended distance. Those doubts were routinely answered with a three-length win over 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Knicks Go. 

He was beaten at Meydan last time, but we could easily breeze past that effort. This year, he will follow the Knicks Go route into the Classic, and ultimately, the result may be the same.

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While we aren’t too high up on the chances of the three-year-olds that ran in Triple Crown races this year.  It could be argued that the most talented three-year-old in the U.S. didn’t run in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, or Belmont Stakes. 

Jack Christopher was the clear favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 12 months ago before scratching from the race at a late stage. The dream of connections to go towards the Kentucky Derby was over, but the horse returned to action this year looking extremely well.

His first start came in the G2 Pat Day Mile, as he won over a mile from Pappacap. He would improve on that showing in the G1 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont in June with a ten-length win over the same rival. 

It remains unclear whether the Chad Brown-trained star will head towards the Classic. We would guess it could be the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile this year and then a challenge in the Classic in 2023.

Country Grammer

Country Grammer will be bidding to give Bob Baffert a record-extending fifth victory in the race this year. The five-year-old has been the biggest market mover in 2022, as he hammered the field in the G1 Dubai World Cup. Hot Rod Charlie and Life Is Good finished behind the five-year-old, but how strong Meydan form holds up on U.S. soil is an entirely different question.

However, he has shown glimpses of strong form at home, including a thrilling win over Royal Ship in the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup last year. But, he remains an unknown quantity in this company in the U.S., and many will need to see him race again in the U.S. before making a final decision.

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