The 2022 Longines Breeders’ Classic is the race fans have eagerly awaited for months. The undefeated Flightline will receive the toughest test of his career as he tries to cement his spot in racing history. He’s won his five starts by nearly 63 lengths and when last seen he was winning the TVG Pacific Classic by an unbelievable 19 1/4 lengths. There’s no doubt he’ll be heavily favored, but he should be sternly tested by the likes of Epicenter, Life Is Good, Olympiad, and Taiba in what should be an epic showdown.
Breeders’ Cup Classic
1. Taiba (8-1 morning-line odds): He’s only turned in one bad effort, albeit that came in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve when he was 12th. Since returning to trainer Bob Baffert’s barn, he was narrowly beaten in the TVG.com Haskell Stakes and was a decisive winner of the Pennsylvania Derby. He’s definitely getting better and should be a key contender.
2. Life Is Good (6-1): He’s a threat to Flightline on a couple of levels. He’s very good, as evidenced by four Grade 1 wins, including one in last year’s Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He’s also brilliantly fast and the battle on the front end with Flightline should be epic. His only loss in his last seven starts was in the Dubai World Cup Sponsored by Emirates Airline at 1 ¼ miles, which is a concern. But he’s a central figure here as someone who could beat Flightline or weaken him enough to set up the race for someone else.
3. Happy Saver (30-1): It’s been a long time between graded stakes wins for him. Specifically, more than two years. Yet before tossing him, consider that he’s been out of the money just once in 12 career starts. He could sneak into the superfecta here.
4. Flightline (3-5): Hard to add something about him that hasn’t been said before. That landslide win in the Pacific Classic says it all. If he runs anything close to that performance, he’s a winner here. The hope for his rivals is that Life Is Good will present enough of a headache that he’s vulnerable in the stretch. We’ll see. It should be an incredible race.
5. Hot Rod Charlie (15-1): It’s a huge morning-line price for a horse who has not been higher than 5-1 since he was second at 94-1 in the 2020 Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland. He’s a $5.5 million earner and finished ahead of Life Is Good in the Dubai World Cup. Picking against him to figure in the trifecta is a difficult task yet it speaks volumes about the quality of the field that he’s the sixth-choice on the morning line.
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6. Epicenter (5-1): The Runhappy Travers Stakes was his shining moment as posted his first Grade 1 win after seconds in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Not only did he win the Travers, but he won it decisively in his best performance in a campaign that dates back to September 2021 without an extended break. Steve Asmussen should have him ready for another peak effort and he’s a major factor here.
7. Olympiad (10-1): He was no match for Life Is Good in the Whitney Stakes but then rebounded with a nice win in the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga. He’s won six of his seven starts this year and on his best day he can give the favorites fits. Whether Saturday will be that day is the big question mark.
8. Rich Strike (20-1): Most people remember his 80-1 victory in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. What happened that day? There was a brutal pace. What’s in the cards for the Classic? A brutal pace duel? Maybe, but even that may not help him in a field much tougher than the one in the beat on the first Saturday in May.
THE PICK: Flightline
LIVE LONGSHOT: Taiba