LEXINGTON, Ky.— A total of 62 Kentucky-based horses were pre-entered in the 14 races for the 39th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland Race Course on Nov. 4-5. An additional 26 horses based out of state used Kentucky tracks to prep for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup in the summer or fall.
The 62 “home team” horses reflect about 30 percent of the 205 horses overall pre-entered for the 14 races, spread over two days and with purses and awards totaling more than $31 million. The five 2-year-old stakes will be on “Future Stars Friday,” with the remaining nine Breeders’ Cup races on Saturday. The pre-entries were announced Wednesday, with entries taken and post positions drawn to set the actual fields this coming Monday. The races are limited to 14 starters, with the exception of the 12-horse maximum for the Juvenile Turf Sprint and Dirt Mile.
The Breeders’ Cup will be staged in Kentucky for the 12th time: three at Keeneland and nine at Churchill Downs.
“Every Kentucky track produced prominent horses for the Breeders’ Cup – and that’s saying something,” said Kentucky HBPA executive director Marty Maline. “A rising tide lifts all boats — and that’s what historical horse racing has done in Kentucky. These horses in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland validate the wisdom of the Kentucky Legislature and its leadership two years ago in protecting historical horse racing in order to preserve and strengthen the state’s year-round racing circuit.”
While the stakes programs at Churchill Downs and Keeneland long have produced a pipeline of Breeders’ Cup runners and winners, the pre-entries show the growing strength of Kentucky Downs, Ellis Park and even Turfway Park. The Northern Kentucky track, which had struggled for more than 20 years before being purchased by Churchill Downs, got back into American racing’s limelight thanks to Rich Strike, who used Turfway’s prep series on a synthetic surface en route to springing an 80-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby. The Eric Reed trainee earned his shot at the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic by finishing second by a nose to the prominent 4-year-old $5.5 million-earner Hot Rod Charlie in Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 Lukas Classic.
Kentucky Downs’ seven-day, 73-race all-grass meet last month produced 23 horses made eligible for the Breeders’ Cup races. Those include Red Knight ($4 million Longines Turf) and Bran ($1 million Turf Sprint), who won the $1 million Kentucky Turf Cup (G2) and $1 million FanDuel Turf Sprint (G2), respectively, to earn fees-paid berths in the Breeders’ Cup.
Other Kentucky Downs stakes-winners who figure prominently into the Breeders’ Cup include $1 million The Mint Ladies Sprint winner Campanelle (in against males in the Turf Sprint, including her sensational stablemate and two-time Breeders’ Cup winner Golden Pal) and Private Creed, who went from winning Kentucky Downs’ $500,000 Global Tote Juvenile Sprint to taking Keeneland’s $250,000 Indian Summer for an automatic spot in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint.
Family Way, winner of last year’s $550,000 AGS Ladies Marathon at Kentucky Downs and second in that race this year, is in the $2 million Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
A pair of Kentucky Downs stakes-winners will run in Breeders’ Cup dirt races. Chop Chop, the $500,000 Aristocrat Gaming Juvenile Fillies winner who then lost Keeneland’s Grade 1 Darley Alcibiades by a nose in her dirt debut, is in the $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. FanDuel Tapit Stakes winner Law Professor earned a shot at the $1 million Big Ass Fans Dirt Mile after finishing second in New York’s Grade 1 Woodward won by Life Is Good, last year’s Dirt Mile winner who is a leading contender for the Classic.
Ellis Park’s 2-year-old program also will be on display – even with Rich Strike, who finished 10th in his racing debut in a mile grass maiden last year at the Pea Patch. Reed made what proved the most historic claim in racing when he took Rich Strike out of a $30,000 maiden claiming race on dirt at Churchill Downs in his next start – a race the future Derby winner won by 17 lengths. Rich Strike is the embodiment of a Kentucky horse, having raced at every Kentucky track but Kentucky Downs.
Breeders’ Cup 2-year-olds that ran at Ellis Park this summer include Private Creed; Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Iroquois winner Curly Jack (in the Juvenile); Chop Chop; New York’s Grade 3 Matron winner American Apple (Juvenile Turf Sprint), Mo Stash (needing defections to run in either the Juvenile Turf or Juvenile Turf Sprint), Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Pocahontas runner-up Shoplifter (Juvenile Fillies); Bling (Juvenile Fillies Turf); Hurricane J (Juvenile) and Webslinger (Juvenile Turf). Going farther back, Manny Wah — who earned a fees-paid spot in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint by taking Keeneland’s Grade 2 Phoenix — was a close third in the 2018 Ellis Park Juvenile and another close third in the 2020 Good Lord Stakes.
Twenty horses that won stakes this year at Keeneland are pre-entered, along with many more that ran at the Lexington track’s elite spring and fall meets. Leading the way is the Wesley Ward-trained defending Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner Golden Pal, who is 7 for 7 at his hometown track of Keeneland. That includes winning the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, with Golden Pal never losing a turf sprint in the United States.
Among other 2022 Keeneland stakes-winners: Bewitch winner War Like Goddess, who beat males in New York’s Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and will attempt to do so again in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. New York-based trainer Todd Pletcher has used Keeneland very effectively with 2021 Kentucky Oaks winner Malathaat winning this month’s G1 Juddmonte Spinster as a prep for Distaff; 2022 G1 Ashland winner and Kentucky Oaks runner-up Nest also in the Distaff; Forte in the Juvenile after taking the G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity; and the 3-year-old Annapolis in the Breeders’ Cup Mile after capturing the G1 Coolmore Turf Mile.
Twenty-three of Churchill Downs’ 2022 stakes-winners were pre-entered. In addition to Derby winner Rich Strike and 2022 Oaks winner Secret Oath, they include last year’s 2-year-old filly champion Echo Zulu (in the Filly & Mare Sprint), G1 Derby City Gaming winner Obligatory (F&M Sprint); Arkansas Derby and Haskell winner Cyberknife (either Dirt Mile or Classic), last year’s champion sprinter Jackie’s Warrior; 2021 Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Aloha West; and Classic contenders Hot Rod Charlie and Olympiad.
The Breeders’ Cup will be televised on NBC, Peacock, USA Network and FanDuel TV (formerly TVG). Coverage begins on Nov. 4 on USA and FanDuel TV from 2-6 p.m. ET. Live coverage resumes on Nov. 5 on FanDuel TV, which will televise the first eight Breeders’ Cup races beginning at 11:50 a.m. ET. The USA Network coverage will go from 1-3:30 p.m. ET. The World Championships conclude from 3:30-6 p.m. ET live on NBC.
Kentucky HPBA Press Release
Main photo: Rich Strike, a true Kentucky-based horse, having raced at Ellis Park, Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Turfway Park (Keeneland Photo)
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