What to Know About Super Saturday Races at the 2022 Breeders’ Cup

What to Know About Super Saturday Races at the 2022 Breeders’ Cup

The day racing fans and horseplayers wait for all year for is almost here. The Breeders’ Cup Saturday program will feature the biggest equine and human stars of horse racing who are ready to square off in nine championship races on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Keeneland Race Course. The event will be headlined by the richest horse race in North America, the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic.

USA Network will offer live programming from 1-3:30 p.m. ET followed by 2 ½ hours of live coverage on NBC and Peacock from 3:30 to 6 p.m. ET.

Here are some details you need to know about Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup races.

Filly and Mare Sprint

Distance: 7 furlongs on dirt

Post time: 11:50 a.m. ET

Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Pick 3, Pick 5

Background: The Filly and Mare Sprint debuted in 2007 when the Breeders’ Cup expended past eight races for the first time, and this race for females is contested at seven furlongs, one-eighth of a mile longer than the Sprint. No horse has ever won this race in wire-to-wire fashion. A 3-year-old filly has won this race three of the last four years in 2018, 2019, and 2020 after no 3-year-old won during the race’s first decade of existence.

Favorites: Goodnight Olive won Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap at Saratoga, powering to a 2 ¾-length victory last time to extend her long winning streak for trainer Chad Brown. Kimari (who has first preference in the Sprint) is likely to be favorite if she picks this spot for trainer Wesley Ward, based on wins in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap at Saratoga and the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Stakes at Belmont at the Big A. Kimari also is a former Grade 1 winner at Keeneland (won the 2021 Madison Stakes).

Interesting Storylines: Ce Ce is looking to become the second horse ever to score a repeat victory in this race and is expected to be among the favorites after knocking-off heavily favored defending champion Gamine in last year’s renewal. Groupie Doll is the only repeat winner in the history of the Filly and Mare Sprint, having won back-to-back in 2012 and 2013.

Turf Sprint

Distance: 5 ½ furlongs on turf

Post time: 12:29 p.m. ET

Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Pick 3, Pick 4, All-Turf Pick 4

Background: First held in 2008, this race has been run only three previous times at this year’s distance of 5 ½ furlongs, including in its two prior runnings at Keeneland in 2015 and 2020. The most common distances in the race’s history have been five furlongs or 6 ½ furlongs. In two past Turf Sprint runnings at Keeneland, Mongolian Saturday broke from post 14 and pressed the pace 1 ½ lengths off the lead en route to victory in 2015, and in 2020, Glass Slippers, a 4-year-old filly based in England with trainer Kevin Ryan, rallied to victory from 10th in a field of 14 to become the first European-based winner in the history of this race.

Favorites: Trainer Wesley Ward, a perennial power in the turf sprint division, is likely to saddle three of the favorites, including defending 2021 Turf Sprint winner Golden Pal, who has returned as good as ever in 2022 with a win in the Grade 3 Troy Stakes at Saratoga to go along with Keeneland victories in the Grade 3 Woodford Stakes Presented by FanDuel and in the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes back in April. Ward will also be represented by Campanelle, who exits a win in September’s Grade 3 Mint Ladies Sprint Stakes at Kentucky Downs, and veteran Grade 2-winning and Grade 1-placed six-time winner Arrest Me Red.

European hopes will largely depend on Highfield Princess, who is a tough as they come as she heads stateside off three straight Group 1 turf sprint wins in France, England, and Ireland. However, all of those races were contested on straightaway courses, so the only question at Keeneland is the left turn.

Interesting Storylines: Two horses have won two consecutive Turf Sprints, Mizdirection in 2012-2013 and Stormy Liberal in 2017-2018. Defending Turf Sprint champ Golden Pal will be amongst the favorites this year as he attempts to join that elite company. With his Turf Sprint victory last year, Golden Pal became only the sixth horse ever to win two different Breeders’ Cup races. He had won the Juvenile Turf Sprint in 2020. The other winners of two different Breeders’ Cup races were: Zenyatta, who won the Distaff in 2008 and the Classic in 2009; Beholder, who won the Juvenile Fillies in 2012 and the Distaff in 2013 and 2016; Knicks Go, who won the Dirt Mile in 2020 and the Classic in 2021; Secret Circle, who did it in non-consecutive years when he won the now-defunct Juvenile Sprint in 2011 and then the Sprint in 2013; and Stephanie’s Kitten, who also won in non-consecutive years when she captured the Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2011 and the Filly and Mare Turf in 2015.

Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile

Distance: 1 mile on dirt

Post time: 1:10 p.m. ET

Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Pick 3

Background: This race was first held in 2007. It either tends to attract milers/routers that are not quite good enough to contend in the Classic or don’t want to stretch out to 1 ¼ miles, or sprinters who find the six furlongs of the Sprint to be too short. The Dirt Mile often was a sort of consolation prize in its early runnings but has since gained in stature with the help of winners like Knicks Go in 2020 and Life Is Good in 2021. That duo were two of only four favorites to win this race in its 15-year history so far, joining Goldencents in 2014 and Liam’s Map in 2015. In order to run one-mile races at Keeneland, the starting gate needs to be set with a long, 70-yard run-up, and the finish line is set at the track’s alternate finish line at the 1⁄16-mile pole.

Favorites: Laurel River will enter off a big win last time in the Grade 1 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar. Gunite won big in the Perryville Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 22, but the Dirt Mile around two turns will be a question mark for him. Cyberknife won the Grade 1 TVG.com Haskell Stakes this summer and was second in the Runhappy Travers Stakes and third in the Pennsylvania Derby. The toughest customer in the field might be Cody’s Wish, who comes off a win over Jackie’s Warrior in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Forego Stakes.

Jack Christopher seems to be leaning toward the Sprint for trainer Chad Brown, but he’ll be favored if he runs here in the Dirt Mile. His onlyeHe loss was when he stretched out in the Haskell, but he boasts an impressive unblemished record at seven furlongs or one mile with victories in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes, the Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes Presented by Mohegan Sun, the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile Stakes Presented by LG&E and KU, and last year’s Grade 1 Champagne Stakes.

Interesting Storylines: Three-year-olds have done well in this race against older company, with sophomores winning five of the last 11 editions of the Dirt Mile. That could be good news for top contenders such as Jack Christopher, Gunite, or Cyberknife.

Maker’s Mark Filly and Mare Turf

Distance: 1 3/16 miles on turf

Post time: 1:50 p.m. ET

Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, jackpot super hi-5, double, Pick 3, Ultra Pick 6 (mandatory payout)

Background: First held in 1999, the Filly and Mare Turf marked the Breeders’ Cup’s first expansion from its original seven-race program. It has been contested at a wide variety of distances since its inception. It is almost always run at 1 3/8 miles or 1 ¼ miles, but at Keeneland it is run at the shorter-than-usual distance of 1 3/16 miles. For a decade, this race has been dominated by two groups of horses: 1) foreigners, which have won six of the last 10 including the Japanese-based 2021 winner Loves Only You; or 2) horses trained by Chad Brown, which have won the race four of the last 10 years. The last North American horse not trained by Chad Brown to win the Filly and Mare Turf was Perfect Shirl in 2011.

Favorites: Most of the major contenders in 2022 are invading from overseas. Nashwa is a multiple Group 1 winning 3-year-old this season for trainers John and Thady Gosden. Above the Curve was only a nose behind Nashwa in her last race and has enjoyed a marvelous 3-year-old campaign in France, England and Ireland for trainer Joseph O’Brien and jockey Ryan Moore. Dreamloper is a veteran mare that has never been better than she is now at age 5, coming out of a win in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. She’ll be tough if she chooses this spot over her first preference in the Mile.

Chad Brown has won this race a record four times so you know his horses will be well bet. His two entries this year will be Keeneland’s Grade 1 First Lady Stakes Presented by UK Healthcare winner In Italian and Virginia Joy, who upset War Like Goddess in the Flower Bowl Stakes.

Interesting Storylines: Foreigners have won the Filly and Mare Turf five of the last six years and with War Like Goddess entering the Turf instead, the foreign-based horses have a strong chance to continue to rule this race. Those five foreign winners were trained by five different trainers and ridden by five different jockeys. Several of this year’s top foreign hopefuls hail from connections who have not yet won the Filly and Mare Turf, including Nashwa and Dreamloper.

Qatar Racing Sprint

Distance: 6 furlongs on dirt

Post time: 2:30 p.m. ET

Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Pick 3, Pick 5

Background: The first “original seven” race of the day. The Sprint in the decade of the 2010s was a race mostly ruled by speed horses that raced on or close to the lead (no more than 3 ½ lengths back at any time). The last two runnings of the Sprint, however, have been won by late runners. Whitmore came from seven lengths out of it to win in 2020, and Aloha West was victorious in 2021 after getting off to a tardy beginning and needing to rally from mid pack.

Favorites: Steve Asmussen’s multiple Grade 1-winning sprinter Jackie’s Warrior will be favored and Jack Christopher will also receive strong support if he opts for this spot instead of the Dirt Mile. Kimari, the Wesley Ward-trained mare, will also take a lot of money if she opts to enter here instead of the Filly and Mare Sprint. Gunite, another possible upsetter, might choose the Dirt Mile. Depending on all these “what ifs” about who’s in and who’s out, the top challenger to Jackie’s Warrior might be American Theorem, trained by George Papaprodromou, who earned big speed figures winning Del Mar’s Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes and Santa Anita Park’s Grade 2 Triple Bend Stakes in 2022.

Interesting Storylines: Rarely are there so many questions surrounding a horse that will be heavily favored as Jackie’s Warrior, who is nearly unbeatable as evidenced by four graded stakes sprint wins this year, yet he always seems to lose when the chips are down. He was upset in his last race by Cody’s Wish way back in August in the Grade 1 Forego Stakes at Saratoga. He will be seeking redemption after throwing in a dud and finishing sixth in last year’s Sprint without an apparent excuse as the 1-2 favorite. He also went down in flames as the favorite in the TVG Juvenile in 2020. Will Jackie’s Warrior get his long-anticipated Breeders’ Cup win, or will he disappoint yet again?

FanDuel Mile Presented by PDJF

Distance: 1 mile on turf

Post time: 3:10 p.m. ET

Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Pick 3, Pick 4

Background: As one of the original seven Breeders’ Cup events, and with a $2 million purse, the Mile is guaranteed to draw an international all-star field. Through its history, the Mile has posed somewhat of an enigma for horseplayers who seem overanxious to designate it as being dominated by European invaders despite evidence to the contrary, which suggests Americans do just as well. In 34 runnings of the Breeders’ Cup Mile to date, not counting horses that began their careers in Europe and then came to the U.S., foreign invaders have won 14 times and accounted for only 41% of the winners of this race. You can hardly cross out the Americans when uncovering the Mile winner, especially with American-based entrants having won four of the last seven years.

Favorites: Charlie Appleby, the defending winning trainer of the Mile thanks to Space Blues in 2021, will send out 2022 Mile favorite Modern Games. Along for the ride will also be jockey William Buick, who also rode Space Blues. Modern Games was the winner of the 2021 Juvenile Turf and will attempt to become just the seventh horse in history to win two different Breeders’ Cup races (see above for previous winners). Modern Games is now 2-for-2 in North America after taking the Ricoh Woodbine Mile in September, and with that Appleby now has a record of 14 wins with 28 starters in North America over the last two years including 11 Grade 1 wins.

Those seeking the best American hope may gravitate to the top three finishers of Keeneland’s Coolmore Turf Mile Stakes – Annapolis, Ivar, or 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile hero Order of Australia, but the favorite amongst the home team might end up being none of those. It could be Chad Brown’s multiple Grade 1-winning 6-year-old mare Regal Glory, who finished second versus the boys in this summer’s Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga and just finished second again in Keeneland’s Grade 1 First Lady Stakes Presented by UK Healthcare in a race that posted a slightly faster final time than the Coolmore Turf Mile did the same day at the same distance.

Interesting Storylines: The front runner or any horse involved in the early pace almost never wins the Breeders’ Cup Mile. With the exception of Hall of Famer Lure in 1992-93, no other pacesetter has won the Mile down through its long history. 2015 winner Tepin, elected to the Hall of Fame this year, was as close to the pace as any horse since Lure when she pressed the pace just a length behind the early leader. She joined Kip Deville in 2007 and Goldikova in 2008 as Mile winners who’ve employed the pace-pressing running style. When you look at the 34-year results of the Mile, you will notice that the overwhelming majority of the winners used a late-closing or a stalking running style en route to victory.

Longines Distaff

Distance: 1 1/8 miles on dirt

Post time: 3:55 p.m. ET

Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Pick 3, Pick 4

Background: The 2021 Distaff featured a giant upset as Japanese-based closer Marche Lorraine took advantage of a blazing fast pace that cooked favored Letruska and all of the other speed horses. The Distaff has a long list of champions among its winners including Monomoy Girl, who capped off a perfect 4-for-4 season in 2020 with a dominant Distaff win en route to her second career Eclipse Award. Monomoy Girl was a non-consecutive winner of this race, also winning as a 3-year-old in 2018. As the female counterpart of the Classic, for a brief part of its past history this race was known as the Ladies’ Classic and was run as the featured race on Friday.

Favorites: It’s difficult to poke holes in the résumé of Nest, whose Grade 1 wins this season include the Alabama Stakes, the Coaching Club American Oaks, and the Central Bank Ashland Stakes at Keeneland back in April. She even ran well in her losses, which were seconds in the Grade 1 Longines Kentucky Oaks and versus boys in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets. She’ll face a serious older rival in 4-year-old filly Malathaat, who racked up Grade 1 wins in the Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga and in the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland, which improved her record to 3-for-3 at the 2022 Breeders’ Cup host track. Both Nest and Malathaat are trained by Todd Pletcher.

Interesting Storylines: Down through its history, the Distaff has been a race defined by its memorable 3-year-old versus older headline matchups, but in recent years the 3-year-olds have lost a bit of traction, winning the race four times the last 17 years. Nest and Malathaat aren’t the only serious challengers in the 2022 Distaff field. A case can be made for most of this year’s eight entrants. Steve Asmussen has a duo entered that might give Pletcher’s 1-2 punch a run for its money. Malathaat’s rival and nemesis, Clairiere, who beat her in both the Grade 2 Shuvee Stakes at Saratoga and the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park, is in the race, as is Asmussen’s up-and-coming 3-year-old winner of the Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing, Society.

Longines Turf

Distance: 1 ½ miles on turf

Post time: 4:40 p.m. ET

Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, super hi-5, double, Pick 3

Background: The grass feature of the Breeders’ Cup card usually attracts a very international field of turf aces, and this year is no exception. Since 2007, only three American-based horses have won: Little Mike in 2012, Main Sequence in 2014, and Bricks and Mortar in 2019, who was the only American winner of this race the last seven years. The 2021 winner was the long-striding grey closer, Yibir, who was a part of a monumental three-win Breeders’ Cup for trainer Charlie Appleby. Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the Turf six times. If O’Brien wins the Turf this year, he’d be the first trainer to win a Breeders’ Cup race seven times. He can accomplish that with one of his two 2022 contenders, Stone Age or Broome.

Favorites: Appleby will go for a repeat win in the Turf this year with a pair of heavy hitters, Rebel’s Romance and Nations Pride. Rebel’s Romance won the UAE Derby this spring but became a Breeders’ Cup contender by taking an unconventional route to the Turf through a pair of Group 1 victories in Germany in his last two races. No horse has ever won the Turf off a German prep in their last start. Meanwhile, Nations Pride enters off a win in New York’s Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational Stakes, which was the same prep used by Yibir last year.

On the American side, the big story is War Like Goddess, a mare who will take on the boys after a four-race 2022 campaign where she won three graded stakes and placed in the other. She beat males last time out in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes and opts to enter the 1 ½-mile Turf at her wheelhouse distance instead of the much shorter Filly and Mare Turf at 1 3/16 miles.

Interesting Storylines: Mishriff, one of the world’s all-time richest racehorses with career earnings of more than $15 million through his first 19 lifetime starts, can become the top-earning Thoroughbred to step foot in the United States with a victory in the Turf, passing Arrogate’s record of $17,422,600. A versatile international performer who can win on both turf and dirt and at distances from 1 1/16 miles to 1 ½ miles, much of Mishriff’s bankroll was earned during a memorable 2021 season when he won the $20 million Saudi Cup on the dirt and then took the Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic on the turf in Dubai for trainers John and Thady Gosden. In 2022, Mishriff finished second behind superstar Baaeed in the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes but enters the Breeders’ Cup off a 13th-place finish in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He may have been destined for the Classic, but with Flightline’s shadow looming over that race, Mishriff will compete in the Turf.

Longines Classic

Distance: 1 ¼ miles on the dirt

Post time: 5:40 p.m. ET

Wagering Menu: Win/place/show, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, double, super hi-5

Background: The Classic is the showcase race of the day and serves as the season-ending championship race in North American racing. With a purse of $6 million, the Classic is one of the world’s richest races and will have by far the highest purse of any race run in North America this year. The world’s best dirt horses compete at the classic distance of 1 ¼ miles in a race that impacts several Eclipse Award divisions, including outstanding older male, outstanding 3-year-old male, and Horse of the Year.

Favorites: The headliner of the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic is undefeated superstar Flightline, who is likely to go off as the heavy favorite in the 2-5 odds range. Flightline is 5-for-5 in his career and has won those races by a combined 62 ¾ lengths including Grade 1 wins in the Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita Park, the Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile) at Belmont Park, and the TVG Pacific Classic Stakes at Del Mar in his last race when he demolished a seasoned group of veteran stakes winners by 19 ¼ lengths. The Pacific Classic answered the final question surrounding Flightline when the 4-year-old colt sired by Tapit handled the Classic’s 1 ¼-mile distance with aplomb. The Classic will be Flightline’s most difficult assignment yet, but few doubt he can do it as trainer John Sadler will attempt to put the icing on a perfect season.

Interesting Storylines: The only sure thing in horse racing is that there are no sure things, but many interested onlookers believe that Flightline will be competing against history much more than his on-track rivals in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic. From an historical perspective, Flightline will have a couple of key benchmarks to shoot for. The stakes record in the Classic, which has been run annually since 1984, was set by Ghostzapper, who won in a time of 1:59.02 at Lone Star Park in 2004, and the largest margin of victory in the history of the Classic was 6 ½ lengths for both American Pharoah in 2015 and Volponi in 2002.

Before Flightline attacks the records, he must first win the race. The field of challengers for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic is an exceptional one and includes the winners of just about every relevant American Grade 1 race run all year including Rich Strike (Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve), Life Is Good (Woodward Stakes, Whitney Stakes, Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes Presented by 1/ST BET), Epicenter (Runhappy Travers Stakes), Olympiad (Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes) and Taiba (Pennsylvania Derby), plus Hot Rod Charlie (won the Grade 2 Lukas Classic Stakes), and Happy Saver, who placed behind Life Is Good in the Whitney and behind Flightline in the Met Mile.