Meet the 2022 Breeders' Cup Classic contenders
Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson takes a horse-by-horse look at pre-entries for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Keeneland, exploring the pros and cons of each contender.
Pros: Two-time Grade 1 winner defeated accomplished Breeders’ Cup contenders like Secret Oath, Taiba, and Jack Christopher to win the Arkansas Derby (G1) and Haskell (G1).
Cons: Hasn’t run as fast as the favorites on the Brisnet Speed rating scale and might be better running shorter than 1 1/4 miles.
Pros: Consistent and durable sophomore beat Cyberknife by 5 1/4 lengths to win the 1 1/4-mile Travers (G1) in a fast time.
Cons: He’s yet to face older horses.
Pros: Unbeaten and untested runner dominated the 1 1/4-mile Pacific Classic (G1) by 19 1/4 lengths, earning a massive 117 Brisnet Speed rating. A repeat surely wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Cons: His two best Brisnet Speed ratings have been earned at Del Mar, and he’s never run at Keeneland.
Pros: Won the 2020 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) racing 1 1/4 miles and has cracked the trifecta in 11 of his 12 starts.
Cons: Faltered to fourth place when last seen in the Lukas Classic (G2) and has finished behind many of his Breeders’ Cup rivals (including Flightline) this season.
Hot Rod Charlie
Pros: Dubai World Cup (G1) runner-up is a proven entity over 1 1/4 miles and rarely finishes out of the trifecta. He recently out-dueled Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Rich Strike to win the Lukas Classic (G2).
Cons: He was beaten to fourth place in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic and typically settles for minor awards when facing Grade 1 company.
Life Is Good
Pros: Brilliant 2021 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner has rattled off victories in the Pegasus World Cup (G1), Whitney S. (G1), and Woodward S. (G1) this season.
Cons: His lone previous try over 1 1/4 miles produced a fading fourth-place finish in the Dubai World Cup (G1).
Pros: Five-time graded stakes winner proved his worth over 1 1/4 miles when posting a two-length triumph in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1).
Cons: Finished well behind Life Is Good, Happy Saver, and Hot Rod Charlie in the Whitney S. (G1) during the summer.
Pros: Stretch-running sophomore rallied to defeat Epicenter in the Kentucky Derby racing 1 1/4 miles.
Cons: He capitalized on a historically fast pace in the Kentucky Derby and his best efforts have come at Churchill Downs.
Pros: Talented three-year-old posted lofty Brisnet Speed ratings of 111 and 113 when winning the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1) in comfortable fashion. Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Breeders’ Cup Classic four times.
Cons: He’s yet to face older rivals.