The Breeders’ Cup culminates with the $6 million Classic on Saturday at Keeneland. Let’s meet the contenders for the 1/ST BET Race of the Week.
The Santa Anita Derby and Pennsylvania Derby winner may have been too lightly raced to be his best in the Run for the Roses in May, but that’s to his advantage as a fresher horse for the Classic. He should be finishing with interest from mid-pack.
2-LIFE IS GOOD
Hero of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile as well as January’s Pegasus World Cup – when defeating reigning Classic winner Knicks Go – there’s no denying his speed. He’s expected to be in front early and take them as far as he can. The hurdle will be the mile and one-quarter distance.
3- HAPPY SAVER
This two-time winner of the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup will be the longest shot in the race, testament to the depth of this year’s Classic. He has been battling some hoof issues this week at Keeneland, increasing the difficulty of his challenge.
Unbeaten in 5 career starts and the world’s No. 1-ranked racehorse, Flightline has answered the call traveling outside of California (winning the Grade 1 Met Mile at New York’s Belmont) and handling the Classic’s mile and one-quarter distance (by nearly 20 lengths in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar). Expect his speed to put him into the race early, likely sitting just behind Life Is Good. From there, race on!
5-HOT ROD CHARLIE
Veteran of the 2021 Triple Crown, he’s training as well as he’s ever looked going into a race. It’s likely we see his very best performance – and he’ll need it against the toughest challengers he’s faced. He finished fourth in this race last year behind Knicks Go and typically does his running near the front of the pack.
A victory in the $6 million Classic would erase some of the sting from second-place finishes in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness. His Travers victory in August stamped him America’s leading 3-year-old. Epicenter has won races from nearly every spot in the pack, so his pace versatility will come in handy In a race expected to be very fast early.
He’s had a fantastic 2022 in races between 1-1/16 and 1-1/4 miles, winning 6 of 7 starts. The Classic will be a major distance challenge with the obvious pace presence of Life Is Good and Flightline. The slow pace in his Jockey Club Gold Cup victory at a mile and one-quarter will be a distant memory when these runners hit the far turn at Keeneland on Saturday.
Last, but not least, meet the Kentucky Derby’s most unlikely winner in about a century. His 80-1 shocker on the first Saturday in May will remain historic. Do it again in beating Flightline and company? That would be epic. His rallying style would benefit if Flightline, Life Is Good and perhaps Hot Rod Charlie decide to duke it out too early, too fast.
Now that you know the Classic contenders, head to the 1/ST BET Breeder’s Cup Wager Guide for picks, stats, analysis and more from Eddie Olczyk, the 1/ST BET artificial intelligence and our stable of handicappers.