Noel’s Weekend Winners: Saturday Turf Selections at the Breeders’ Cup

Fans peruse the racing program and enjoy the surroundings at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup held at Keeneland. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Welcome to Noel Michaels’ Weekend Winners, the place to go for weekend best bets and spot plays from veteran handicapper and tournament-play pioneer Noel Michaels. Check back every week for a couple of highlighted selections designed to help you cash a few bets and make some money.

Noel's selections have been featured just about everywhere horse racing picks can be found, including in print in the Daily Racing Form, The HorsePlayer Magazine and American Turf Monthly, online at, and, from the paddock on-track at Arlington International Racecourse, and on the air on HRTV, TVG, NYC OTB Extra, NYRA's Talking Horses, and on broadcast TV on WAVE-3 Louisville, ABC KOLO-8 in Reno, Nevada, and channel 72 Long Island Cablevision.

The 2022 Breeders’ Cup is finally here, and Saturday’s main Breeders’ Cup program will cap off the best two days of racing of the year in style with nine races loaded with international talent and superstars. While it certainly will be fun to see some of the day’s best favorites in action – stars of the sport such as Jackie’s Warrior in the Qatar Racing Sprint and of course Flightline in the Longines Classic – the day’s best betting races just might be the grass races, which all feature big wide-open fields any handicapper would love to play. Here are recommended plays for all three of Saturday’s turf features held around two turns – the Makers’ Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF, and the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf. Best of luck on an incredible day of racing from Keeneland!

Keeneland Race Course, Race 6, $2,000,000 Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf, post time 1:50 p.m. ET

weekend Television schedule

Wednesday, Nov. 2: 1-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Thursday, Nov. 3: 1-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Friday, Nov. 4: 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on FS2; 2-6 p.m. on USA Network; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Saturday, Nov. 5: 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. on FS2; 1-3:30 p.m. on USA Network; 3:30-6 p.m. on NBC; post time varies on FanDuel TV

Sunday, Nov. 6: 12-6 p.m. on FS2; post time varies on FanDuel TV

For a decade, this race has been dominated by two groups of horses: foreigners, which have won this race six of the last 10 years; or horses trained by Chad Brown, which have won the other four runnings. Let’s focus our plays on the best of the entrants from those two groups and try to hit some rather obvious but still lucrative exotics in this race. At Keeneland, the Filly and Mare Turf is run at the shorter-than-usual distance of 1 3/16 miles, and that should help the Chad Brown-trained #11 In Italian (7-2) who comes off back-to-back Grade 1 wins in the one-mile First Lady Stakes Presented by UK Healthcare right here at Keeneland, and the 1 1/8-mile Diana Stakes at Saratoga. She has the speed to secure a good position into the first turn from the outside post, and she will have a legitimate chance to go all the way or at least hold on for a spot in the exotics. The real killers in here appear to be the pair coming out of 2-3 finishes in last month’s Group 1 Prix de l’Opera, #3 Nashwa (5-2) trained by John Gosden, and #4 Above the Curve (9-2) trained by Joseph O’Brien. Nashwa won two Group 1 races this year, seems to run best at 1 ¼ miles (a comparable distance to 1 3/16 miles), and handles turf that’s more on the firm side. Above the Curve was just a nose behind Nashwa at Longchamp last time and also should handle the distance nicely.

The Play: I’m not trying to break the bank here, just trying to combine three logical horses and come out of it with some nice tickets. Play three-horse boxes in the exactas and trifectas with #3 Nashwa, #4 Above the Curve, and #11 In Italian.

Keeneland Race Course, Race 8, $2,000,000 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup Mile Presented by PDJF, post time 3:10 p.m. ET

The first thing handicappers have to do in the Mile is throw out the pace horses. In the history of this race dating to 1984, only Lure ever won wire-to-wire (1992-93) and only a few others were close to the lead (Kip Deville in 2007, Goldikova in 2008, and Tepin in 2015). That’s it. American-based horses have won the Mile four of the last seven years, but Europe scored one last year with Space Blues winning for trainer Charlie Appleby. Appleby will have a great shot at a repeat this year with #4 Modern Games (7-2), who won last year’s Juvenile Turf and has had another excellent campaign as a 3-year-old in 2022, including a blowout North American win in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile Stakes. Appleby’s horses are reliably good when they ship to these shores; he has a record of 14 wins with 28 starters in North America over the last two years including 11 Grade 1 wins, and we’ve already seen what Modern Games and jockey William Buick can do on the big stage. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the horse that poses the biggest threat to Modern Games, #13 Kinross (9-2), is drawn way outside in the parking lot. Kinross is still a legitimate threat having posted four Group 1 or Group 2 wins in a row, but a question mark for him is the fact that he hasn’t raced past seven furlongs all year. Slipping a little more under the radar perhaps will be #3 Dreamloper (6-1), who creamed Group 1 competition at Longchamp last time out in a field that including 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile upset winner Order of Australia (who’s back this year at 12-1 morning-line odds). Finally, Chad Brown’s mare #8 Regal Glory (6-1) never runs a bad race and finished second against the boys this season in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga. She fits in this in this spot based on distance, speed figures, connections, and consistency.

The Play:  Bet #4 Modern Games to win and bet a three-horse exacta box using #3 Dreamloper, #4 Modern Games, and #8 Regal Glory. Key #4 Modern Games on top in trifectas with #3 Dreamloper, #8 Regal Glory, and #13 Kinross all underneath.

Keeneland Race Course, Race 10, $4,000,000 Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf, post 4:40 p.m. ET

Since 2007, only three American-based horses have won this race (Little Mike in 2012, Main Sequence in 2014, and Bricks and Mortar in 2019 – the only American winner of this race the last seven years). Meanwhile, Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the Turf six times and has a legitimate chance for number seven this year with #4 Broome (12-1), who finished second in the Turf last year. Broome is a late runner who likes firmer footing, and for that you can give him a pass in his two recent losses which both came over very soft turf he didn’t handle. Because of the recent losses, you are getting 12-1 morning line odds on a proven Group 1 winner trained by the best trainer in the history of the race. Irad Ortiz Jr., who rode Broome in last year’s Turf, is back aboard. Europeans have done so well in this race that you have to look for at least one more to help fill out your tickets, and #11 Mishriff (6-1) comes in here with a career bankroll of more than $15 million in earnings and with one of the Breeders’ Cup’s all-time most successful jockeys aboard, Frankie Dettori. Perhaps Mishriff would have been more of a headliner last year when his form looked better, and perhaps he was entered in the Turf to avoid facing Flightline in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, but the fact is he’s competed admirably at the very top level for grass runners all year, and this year’s Turf field is not the strongest we’ve ever seen. That makes Mishriff an obvious add-on in the exotics. The top American hope should be the mare #2 War Like Goddess (9-2), who will face 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. She’s 5-for-5 at 1 ½ miles and 2-for-2 at Keeneland.

The Play: Bet #4 Broome to win in the range of 10-1 odds at post time. Play three-horse boxes in the exactas and trifectas with #2 War Like Goddess, #4 Broome, and #11 Mishriff.

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