Odds-on favorites , wide-open races in final fields for Breeders' Cup

By Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Flightline, seen winning the Grade I Pacific Classic in his last start, has been installed as the odds-on favorite for Saturday's $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic. Benoit photo, courtesy of Del Mar Turf Club
Flightline, seen winning the Grade I Pacific Classic in his last start, has been installed as the odds-on favorite for Saturday's $6 million Breeders' Cup Classic. Benoit photo, courtesy of Del Mar Turf Club

Nov. 1 (UPI) -- The fields for Friday and Saturday's 14 Breeders' Cup Championship races were set Monday, with Flightline in the Classic, Nest in the Distaff, Jackie's Warrior in the Sprint and Cave Rock in the Juvenile as odds-on favorites.

In addition to those obvious picks, the two days of racing feature plenty of wide-open events with excellent horses at relatively long odds in competitive fields -- a recipe for great wagering opportunities.


The marquee matchup is the $6 million Longines Breeders' Cup Classic at 1 1/4 miles, with Flightline, the world's No. 1 rated horse, defending his undefeated record while starting from gate No. 4.

The Tapit colt has yet to be seriously tested, winning his five starts by margins of 13 1/4, 13 3/4, 11 1/2, 6 and 19 1/2 lengths. That last effort, in the Grade I Pacific Classic, had observers comparing him to Secretariat.


A decisive win Saturday might confirm that analysis and certainly would earn Horse of the Year honors.

Still, trainer John Sadler isn't counting any chickens -- at least out loud.

"I respect every horse in the race," Sadler said after Flightline's final formal work on Saturday in video provided by Jennie Rees, courtesy of the Kentucky HBPA.

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"It's a top-class field of horses, really good horses. You have the ascending 3-year-olds. You have the older horses that are really good horses. So it's a very good race. We don't take anything for granted."

The eight-horse field is, indeed, top class. Seven of the eight are Grade I winners, including Kentucky Derby winner and runner-up Rich Strike and Epicenter.

But the matchup catching the eye is between Flightline and Life Is Good, a 4-year-old by Into Mischief, who has won four Grade I races.

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The two have similar running styles -- sprint to the lead, cruise at an extremely fast pace and then kick away from anyone mounting a late challenge. Few horses can do all those things. Almost none do it as well as these two.

Life Is Good drew the No. 2 stall and thus has every chance to get the jump on Flightline heading down the stretch for the first time.


Neither Sadler nor Life Is Good's trainer, Todd Pletcher, made much of the draw. "It's a good draw for him. It's just fine," Sadler said Monday. Pletcher added, "I don't think it's hugely important going a mile and a quarter."

The other six in the field obviously will be hoping Flightline and Life Is Good wear each other out as each tries the distance for only the second time -- and for the first time against each other.

The Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff has another odds-on favorite. Nest, second in the Kentucky Oaks, is the 4-5 morning-line choice here in an eight-horse field that also includes the Oaks winner Secret Oath and top older horses Malathat, Clairiere and Society -- all at attractive odds.

Jackie's Warrier tops the oddsmaker's list at 4-5 for the Qatar Racing Breeders' Cup Sprint at 6 furlongs on the main track.

Golden Pal is not odds-on in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint but, at 2-1, he's the clear favorite in a field of 14 while running at his home track and seeking a third Breeders' Cup win.

For the more risk-tolerant, there are plenty of wide-open races on the Saturday program.


None of the Breeders' Cup races is ever easy to figure out -- even those with odds-on favorites -- so why not check out the opinion of an expert like industry guru Jude Feld? He opines, with wit and wisdom, at .

In the Turf, Dubai-based Godolphin has the two morning-line favorites in Rebel's Romance and Nation's Pride, posted at 3-1 and 4-1, respectively. The top American contender, War Like Goddess, takes on male contenders at generous odds of 9-2.

Also on the grass, Europeans appear to hold a strong hand in a very competitive field of 14 for the FanDuel Breeders' Cup Mile with morning-line favorites Modern Games (7-2) and Kinross (9-2).

Nashwa, In Italian and Above the Curve are the early choices in the Maker's Mark Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf with none of the other nine seemingly out of the event. Tuesday, winner of the Cazoo Oaks at Epsom in England back in May, also is in the field.

Cody's Wish and Gunite loom over nine rivals in the Big Ass Fans Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Cody's Wish is named for Cody Dorman, a teenager with a rare genetic disorder who avidly follows the colt's exploits.


Goodnight Olive and defending champion Ce Ce are the morning-line picks in the Filly & Mare Sprint with last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Echo Zulu also highly regarded despite a No. 14 draw.

The only Japanese contender in this year's Breeders' Cup, Chain of Love, is 20-1 while starting in the middle of the pack.

The five Championship races on the Friday card are all for 2-year-olds and feature the $2 million FanDuel Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Cave Rock, trained by five-time winning trainer Bob Baffert, is the odds-on favorite in this at 4-5.

Friday also offers the Juvenile Fillies, the Juvenile Turf, the Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Juvenile Turf Sprint -- handicapping challenges all.

As all those races unfold, many will await Flightline's presumed ascension into the ranks of the all-time greats.

David Ingordo, who brokered the deal that resulted in Flightline's $1 million purchase as a yearling, was asked after his final pre-race workout to define the colt's greatness. Ingordo lauded his physical attributes and natural grace and balance.

"And then, when he does it, it's just next-level talent," Ingordo said. "It's LeBron James. It's Michael Jordan. It's Wayne Gretzky. You pick a great in another sport, there's a lot of 'em, you say, 'Okay, I see it in 'em.'


"And then when they go to do it, it's the 'it,' it's the X-factor, whatever term you want to use, they have it. Again. Pat. Just being a great athlete. They put it all together and they transcend their sport."

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