- The Breeders’ Cup is much more than one or two big races
- Friday’s five two-year-old races put the spotlight on the sport’s future stars
- Saturday is a wall-to-wall championship-caliber competition. Who should you bet on in the Breeders’ Cup Undercard odds?
The Breeder’s Cup began in 1984. The idea was simple, the public falls in love with the Triple Crown, and then moves on to other sports. By creating a year-end spectacle, with all the best horses, it would not only be a day for the sport to get a lot of attention and crown champions, but it would make all of the summer and fall stakes races into Breeders’ Cup preps, and therefore a bigger deal.
The event has been a tremendous success, and now 14 races are run over two days. The Classic gets a ton of attention, and to a lesser degree, the Distaff (Ladies Classic) is important to the public. While those are two huge races, Friday’s Juvenille and Juvenile Fillies help determine the early Kentucky Derby and Oaks favorites, and Saturday’s slate is one big-time event after another.
Let’s make some picks in the Breeders’ Cup Undercard odds, and break down our favorite races. Good luck Friday and Saturday at Keeneland.
Breeders’ Cup Undercard Picks
|Juvenile Fillies||Chop Chop||+400|
|Turf Sprint||Highland Princess||+350|
Big competitive fields typically help make Breeders’ Cup odds intriguing. There are a handful of significant favorites, and you have to decide whether to be on or against them. The rest of the races are rather open and any winner you pick will pay well.
Breeders Cup Classic odds this year are an example of whether to bet on or against a heavy favorite. While most of the races do not have a horse the caliber of Flightline in them, Jackie’s Warrior and Golden Pal are about as accomplished as you can get. Trying to beat them is reasonable if you like someone else, but recognize their resume is what it is for a reason.
Friday’s Breeders’ Cup races begin at 3:00 pm ET and will air on the USA Network. Saturday coverage starts at 11:50 am ET on USA, with NBC taking over at 3:30 pm. Lexington, Kentucky is expected to have clear skies with temperatures in the 70s on Friday. There is a 40% chance of rain Saturday.
Juvenile Fillies Prediction
This mile-and-a-sixteenth test on the dirt appears wide open. And Tell Me Nolies (+800) is the only two-time graded stakes winner in the field. Wonder Wheel (+500) beat Chop Chop (+400) and Raging Sea (+800) when they raced at Keeneland last month.
Wonder Wheel certainly had the easiest trip. That said, she fended off the challenge of Chop Chop down the stretch. Chop Chop was rolling, and trainer Brad Cox won four Breeders’ Cup races when they were at Keeneland two years ago.
Chocolate Gelato (+350) beat You’re My Girl (+1000) and Leave No Trace (+2000) in the slop October 2 in New York. Albeit in a sprint race, Chocolate Gelato ran the best speed figure of any horse in this event when she won at Saratoga in August.
Todd Pletcher trains Chocolate Gelato, and also has Atomically (+1200). Pletcher recently took over the conditioning on Atomically after the horse was sold privately. Atomically’s dad is the red hot sire Girvin.
Pick: Chop Chop (+400)
Though the Juvenile winner has not often gone on to win the roses, this is the biggest two-year-old race of the year and particularly in 2022, it looks like it could be a statement race.
Cave Rock (-120) is a heavy favorite in the mile-and-a-sixteenth challenge. Trained by Bob Baffert, who is banned from the Kentucky Derby, the $550,000 son of champion Arrogate is three-for-three.
Each of Cave Rock’s three career results are better than what any of his competitors has ever run. In fact, the second-highest speed figure in the race was produced by Baffert’s National Treasure (+800), who did so when losing to Cave Rock by more than five lengths.
It is possible the two-year-old races in California were overrated. If so, Forte (+400), Verifying (+1000), and Blazing Sevens (+600) are logical. Forte has won three of four races including two big ones recently. He beat Blazing Sevens at Saratoga before scoring at Keeneland last month. Blazing Sevens bounced back from the loss to Forte by running his best career race, in the mud at Aqueduct. Verifying won his debut before finishing second to Blazing Sevens last time out.
Lost Ark (+2000) is a big price. He was two-for-two before encountering serious racing trouble when facing Forte in Lexington. The brother of top three-year-old filly Nest is trained by Pletcher, just as Forte is.
Pick: Cave Rock (-120)
Turf Sprint Prediction
There is nothing not to like about two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Golden Pal (+200). He has eight wins in 12 starts, with three of the setbacks against the best-of-the-best in Europe. His only loss in America was his first career race.
Golden Pal won the Turf Sprint at Del Mar last year and now looks to repeat going the five-and-a-half furlongs at Keeneland, where he is unbeaten in four tries.
Highland Princess (+350) is serious competition. European-based horses have typically done well at Keeneland, and he has won three straight, and four of his last five. His last two wins are against top competition, and he has run the best two races of his life.
Creative Force (+1000) and Naval Crown (+3000) are trained by Charlie Appleby, whose record in North America and the Breeders’ Cup is insanely good.
Campanelle (+800) got bet more aggressively, and ran better than Appleby’s pair at Royal Ascot in July, and returned to America with a victory at Kentucky Downs in September.
Golden Pal is the most likely winner, but Highland Princess provides value.
Pick: Highland Princess (+350)
Like Golden Pal, it is difficult to knock Jackie’s Warrior (-120). Though he lost this race last year and did not win his only career try at Keeneland, he has 12 wins in 17 starts for earnings of $2.8 million.
Last time out Jackie ran a very fast race but finished second going seven furlongs. He returns to six furlongs on Saturday, where he has four wins in five starts. The competition here is significant, but does Jackie’s Warrior possess controlling speed? If he can dictate the tempo, it will be hard to run him down.
Elite Power (+600) has the look of a horse who is going to be a monster in 2023. He has won four straight races, stepping up in class each time, and overpowering his lesser rivals. A $900,000 son of Curlin, this is the best competition he has faced. His last four races are all excellent, though probably none good enough efforts to beat Jackie’s Warrior. Will he take another step forward?
Kimari (+400) has run back-to-back excellent races. She likes Keeneland but loses top jockey Joel Rosario to Jackie’s Warrior.
Jackie is the most likely winner. Elite Power possesses the most betting value.
Pick: Elite Power (+600)
European horses usually dominate this mile turf race, and two of them appear to be more likely than the rest this year. Modern Games (+350) has raced in North America twice for Appleby and been terrific both times.
While Modern Games has finished second in his last two races across the pond, they are against the best of the best.
Kinross (+450) has been busy recently. He won in Great Britain in August, September, and October, while taking a top-level race in France in the fall too. He typically runs a little bit shorter races than this.
Dreamloper (+600) has run some big races in Europe. A five-year-old mare, she beat boys in each of her last two victories. She’s facing better males on Saturday.
Pletcher’s Annapolis (+1000) may be the best of the US-based runners. The three-year-old beat elders last time out at Keeneland and his last two races are excellent.
Smooth Like Strait (+1000) was second in this event last year. He doesn’t win often, but almost always is right in the mix.
Pick: Modern Games (+350)
The $4 million mile-and-a-half Turf also has been dominated by Euros. Appleby has a pair of serious runners in Nation’s Pride(+350) and Rebel’s Romance (+300).
Nation’s Pride won four of six races in Europe before coming to America. He was upset running shorter in a race with no pace at Belmont Park in July. He would not be denied in either of his last two starts.
Nation’s Pride is ridden by Appleby’s favorite jockey, William Buick. The team has seven wins in eight starts over the last two years in North America.
Rebel’s Romance has won four straight races. Buick rode him to victory in Great Britain twice and Germany once. James Doyle was up for the other victory, in Germany in August, and has the mount on Saturday.
War Like Goddess (+450) has been super consistent and loves Keeneland. A mare running against the boys, she has nine wins in 12 career starts. She beat top-notch US-based males in New York in October.
World traveler Mishriff (+600) is entering his final career race. He has earned over $15 million in 20 career races. He has wins in four countries. This is his US debut. He hasn’t won in over a year, a span of seven races. Mishriff has faced the stiffest competition around the globe and may find the footing and competition in Kentucky to his liking.
Pick: Mishriff (+600)