A Closer Look at 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic Hopeful Olympiad

The fields for the 14 races that comprise the Breeders’ Cup World Championships really begin to come into focus in summer and fall, and just last weekend we witnessed several breakout performances.

One of those came from Olympiad, who punched his ticket to the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic with a win in the $740,000 Stephen Foster Stakes July 2 at Churchill Downs.

The “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series offers the winners of specific individual races an expenses-paid starting spot for corresponding Breeders’ Cup races, and this blog will periodically take a closer look at one promising prospect. The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the marquee race of the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships to be held at Keeneland for the third time overall on Nov. 4-5, 2022, with 14 Breeders’ Cup races offering $28 million in purse money and awards.

Racing Résumé: After winning two of five starts in his first two seasons of racing with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap Presented by NYRA Bets in his stakes debut, Olympiad has emerged in 2022 as a rising star for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

He improved to 5-for-5 this season with a dominant 2 ¼-length victory from just off the pace in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster that resulted in a career-best 123 Equibase Speed Figure and 111 Beyer Speed Figure.

It was one point better than the 110 Beyer Speed Figure Life Is Good earned for winning the $3 million Pegasus World Cup in January to rate as the highest figure at more than a mile this year – Charge It earned a 111 for winning the Dwyer Stakes at one mile on July 2.

The Stephen Foster was the fifth straight triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure for Olympiad in 2022.

We knew Olympiad was fast – he set a new track record of 1:42.01 for 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds in winning the Mineshaft Stakes in February – but watching him press a fast pace in the Stephen Foster and still finish with a final eighth of a mile in :12.53, according to Equibase, was especially impressive.

Olympiad is a fast, consistent 4-year-old with a high-cruising speed that allows him to gain tactical position in his races, plus he’s in the hands of one of the best trainers in the history of the sport. Sure, there are some extremely talented horses in the Longines Classic division including, among others, Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap winner Flightline, Pegasus World Cup victor Life Is Good, and Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline winner Country Grammer, but Olympiad has cemented his status as a top contender and a budding star for owners Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stables, and LNJ Foxwoods.

Pedigree: Olympiad is from the 13th crop of 2004 champion sprinter Speightstown, by Gone West. When many people see the name of a champion sprinter as a sire, they think his best runners will be fast and precocious. It’s true that Speightsown has sired plenty of quality 2-year-olds and talented sprinters, but he’s actually far more versatile than that.

Speightstown took some time as a racehorse to come around, winning champion sprinter honors as a 6-year-old, and many of his best runners have improved significantly with age: Tamarkuz won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at 6; Haynesfield won the Jockey Club Gold Cup at 4; and Flagstaff became a Grade 1 winner at age 7. Speightstown has enjoyed success as a sire on dirt and turf and with sprinters as well as longer-distance runners.

When considering his chances to excel at 1 ¼ miles in the classic, Olympiad gets a nice stamina boost from the bottom half of his pedigree. His dam (mother), Tokyo Time, by Medaglia d’Oro, was a winner at 1 1/8 miles and also Grade 2-placed at that distance. Grandam (maternal grandmother) Flying Passage, by A.P. Indy, earned her lone win at 1 1/16 miles and produced Hungry Island and Soaring Empire, both stakes winners around two turns. Medaglia d’Oro and A.P. Indy are both major stamina influences as broodmare sires and Olympiad’s family also produced 1987 Ashland Stakes winner Chic Shirine and 2015 Travers Stakes winner Keen Ice.

In short, there is much reason for optimism as it pertains to Olympiad being effective at 1 ¼ miles in the Longines Classic Nov. 5 at Keeneland.