Like much of the world, horse racing in the US suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Statista, the racing industry was worth $5.25 billion in 2018, but the latest estimates suggest the market size in 2022 at $3.68 billion, all be it up slightly on last year. With a field of very talented horses running in the US right now, there’s hope in the industry that the upcoming Breeders’ Cup will help boost visibility and participation. Certainly, we will see some rivalries play out in the Classic, which will draw serious competitors
Looking at the predictions for the Breeders’ Cup, Flightline and Epicenter are the current favorites, but there a few other horses that will give them a run for the money.
No matter what sport you’re in, if you are unbeaten then you’re going to be very good indeed. Four races into his career and bay colt Flightline, trained by John W Sadler and ridden by Flavien Prat is undefeated, most recently the Pacific Classic at Del Mar on September 3rd, where he cantered home 19 1/4 lengths ahead of the rest of the field, earning comparisons to Secretariat and earning a 126 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest since Ghostzapper earned a 128 in the 2004 Philip H. Iselin Breeders’ Cup Handicap. It is that kind of form that sees Flightline as joint-favorite in the Ladbrokes horse racing odds for the 2022 Breeders Cup Classic.
Epicenter, trained by Steve Assmussen and ridden by Joel Rosario, came into the year as one of the favorites for the Triple Crown, but came up short, placing second in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Since then, he’s won both the Jim Dandy and the Travers, the latter by 5 1/2 lengths. Many tip him for the 3-year old Male Horse of the Year at the Eclipse Awards but he will need to fight off some serious contenders as the year comes to an end.
Life is Good
Third in the current odds is Life is Good. Trained now by Bob A. Fletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr, 4-year old Life Is Good has more races under his saddle than Flightline. He finished his 3-year old campaign by winning the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile in 2021 and carried that form into 2022 — setting the pace in the Pegasus World Cup and coasting to an impressive victory. Although that win made him a favorite for the Dubai World Cup, he gave up the lead in the last eighth of a mile and ended up fourth. Since then, he’s returned to form winning the John A. Nerud, the Whitney Stakes, and the Woodward. With 2022 winnings of more than $3 million, he has the speed and experience to win this year’s Classic.
Hot Rod Charlie
Further down in the odds right now are a few horses that may be undervalued. Hot Rod Charlie has show his mettle, trying every time he races. He’s been no worse than third in 12 of his last 13 starts, winning five and beaten by inches in another two. He earned a Beyer Speed figure of 122 in the Whitney and, most recently, held off a late run by Rich Strike in the Lukas Classic. With a good trip he could easily be a contender and you have to admire his fighting spirit.
Rich Strike capture the imagination of the public with his upset win of the Kentucky Derby. Claimed for just $30K, he is an “every man’s” horse that reached the highest echelons of racing. After winning the Derby, he narrowly missed second place in the Travers, and battled Hot Rod Charlie down to the wire in the Lukas, where the 3-year old raced against older horses for the first time. What wasn’t revealed until after the race, was that a loose girth caused Rich Strike’s saddle to slip precariously to the left, leaving jockey Sonny Leon, clinging on for dear life! Will the stars align for him in the Classic?
With so many talented horses aimed toward the Breeders’ Cup Classic, it’s sure to be an exciting race.