Welcome to the 2022 Breeders’ Cup – two days of championship races – coming to you from the iconic Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky.
Friday features five races, all involving 2-year-old horses as the “future stars” are showcased.
The first race goes off at 12 noon PDT, with the final race of the day scheduled for a 2:40 p.m. post.
Time to shoot through the five races, giving you my plays in the races.
Juvenile Turf Sprint (12 noon post): Don’t blink or might miss this one. There are some big speed runners in here, but does it set up for a front runner, or for someone to stalk and come flying down the lane. A 12-horse field does give me some cause for pause as needing to pass 6-8 horses late might be a tall order. That being said, I am looking at Private Creed (No. 3) as the winner. Out of the Steve Asmussen barn, the colt that has won 3-of-4 starts, should sit, fourth to fifth throughout, then pick off the speed demons in the lane. At 12-1 on the morning line, it looks like tasty value play. Love Reigns (2), a Wesley Ward horse, figures to be fighting on the front of the pack. The horse finished fourth when Ward took the horse to the Royal Ascot but came back with a nice win in Saratoga in August. You can’t look past any Chad Brown horse when they go to the turf. Brown enters Oxymore (7). The horse was beaten a half-length in his last start but that was a route and now he wheels back to a sprint, a move Brown hits at 27 percent. And it’s a big turf race with a good-looking Brown horse. Speed Boat Beach (11) is an interesting one as it comes from the Bob Baffert barn, not a trainer known for big turf runners. Won both of his two starts and looks to be that he will keep getting better. Baffert would not have entered the horse unless he felt good about the chances of winning. Hard not to include a Baffert horse in a big race, regardless of the surface. The Platinum Queen (12) is the betting favorite at 7/2 but I am just not sold in a Juvenile race.
My play: Got to stick with my first pick Private Creed on the win, but will put together two, four-horse boxes for the exacta and trifecta. Play the 2/3/7/11 box in both the exacta and the trifecta. There are some good, price horses in the with any combination paying well.
Juvenile Fillies (12:40 p.m.): A pair of runners here coming off a win in a big stake, each beating three other horses entered here. Wonder Wheel (No. 5) absolutely battled to the finish, winning the Alcibiades by a nose. There is some concern about much that race took out of the horse, but she has come back with some big works. Always a fan of the Mark Casse barn. Chop Chop (No. 7) was second to Wonder Wheel and was gobbling up ground after a poor break. Brad Cox just wins big races and here is one that sets up nicely. Chocolate Gelato (No. 10) won the Frizette but there are questions with the distance. Best start by far was the 6-furlong MSW win. Raging Sea (No. 14) was third in the Alcibiades, just missing the place by a neck, meaning she was also just a head off the win. If you like the first two finishers in that race, then you need to include the third-place runner as well. Vegas Magic (No. 1) brings some local sentiment as the horse was the winner of the Everrett Nevin at the Alameda County Fair this summer.
My play: I am looking at Chop Chop for the win as I think she gets a better start this time, leaving her closer to the leaders for that run down the lane. For the exotics let’s put boxes of both 5/7/10/14 for the exacta and trifecta.
Juvenile Fillies Turf (1:20 p.m.): The turf races are where the Europeans usually dominate. Even with some competitive American horses, when a loaded Euro makes the trip over, they are tough to beat. That is the case here with the Irish runner Mediate (No. 10) appearing on the scene. When you get Aiden O’Brien training and Ryan Moore riding your morning line favorite, take it to the bank. So, who would you pick to challenge? How about another Chad Brown runner in Free Look (No. 4). The horse did get surprised in her last start with Pleasant Passage (No. 5) but there is every reason to expect her to bounce back here. Has Flavian Prat in the irons as well. Delight (No. 9) did win the Jessamine over the Keeneland turf, winning by five lengths.
My play: Straight win bet on Mediate, then come back with 10/over 4 and 9 in the exacta and trifecta.
Juvenile (2 p.m.): My favorite race of the first day as this is the race that sets the early favorite for next year’s Kentucky Derby. Bob Baffert is back in vogue and he without a doubt has the horse to beat here with Cave Rock (No. 3). Baffert has a history of running Derby winners that debut in the early spring as a 3-year-old. Here he sits with a loaded 2-year-old, perfect in all three starts, winning all three by over five lengths. In the American Pharoah he beat stablemate National Treasure and earned a 104 Beyer, his second in his three starts. Can he be beaten? Sure, it’s just not likely here. Forte (No. 4) out of the Todd Pletcher barn has won two straight, including the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland. He will need to take a big leap up here. Blazing Sevens (No. 6) a Chad Brown entry fell to Forte two back in the Hopeful but then came to win the Champagne in his last start. There just looks to be too much here to look at any other runners.
My play: We are putting the big boy to win, followed by playing him over the other two in the exacta and trifecta. Play tickets of 3/over the 4/6.
Juvenile Turf (2:40 p.m.): The last of the five Juvenile races on Day One also looks like it will be a European affair. Charles Appleby sends out Silver Knott (No. 4) here and the horse looks easily to be the horse to beat. Appleby won all three BC races where he had horses running in 2021 and is 6-for-11 overall. The winner of 3-of-5 races, Silver Knott will open at 3-1 but I expect him to go lower. As usual if it is a turf race, always factor in a Chad Brown horse, with it being I’m Very Busy (No. 8) in this spot. He was upset by Major Dude (No. 13) in the Pilgrim in his last start where he rallied from far back, but just missed. It just seems fruitless to look past the first two so we will end it there.
My play: A decent win bet on Silver Knott and then a straight exacta bet of 4/8 to end day one!
Saturday’s picks will be out Friday night!