HA;LLANDALE BEACH, FL, October 4, 2022 — Well here it is, the final weekend of traditional Breeders’ Cup preps, events that were championship defining themselves, pre-1984 that is.
But we’re not complaining. While the Kentucky Derby remains my favorite American race, it is Breeders’ Cup that is many shining moments. It’s an event that never fails to fire.
At least, Breeders’ Cup is a weekend that can define a career. At its best, it can be legend making.
There are three races on opening Friday that will significantly impact projected results four weeks hence, simply for the fact that they are, by definition, races over the 2022 Breeders’ Cup track.
The first of the three, the Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix Stakes, America’s oldest consecutively run event, gives sprinters their last best chance to show what they’ve got prior to the big show.
This year’s edition features a speedster that wasn’t nationally recognized, and still might not be, but Sibelius has opened eyes in two recent blowout wins at Saratoga and Pimlico–when he won by 7-1/2 lengths without being asked late.
Is he Jackie’s Warrior? Hardly. Not many horses can compile a 12-for-17 career slate, including 4-for-5 this year, while competing in top company. Sprint champions can’t afford chinks in their armor.
Will America’s juvenile turf fillies prove capable of matching strides with classy Europeans? It’s possible but unlikely. Perhaps some young miss will raise her game in the JP Morgan Chase Jessamine. At minimum, course familiarity can’t hurt.
The race of opening day is the G1 Darley Alcibiades for juvenile fillies going two turns at 1-1/16 miles, many for the first time. None of the fillies have experience at Keeneland, either, then neither do the Euros who will be playing on America’s turf this time, pun intended.
As expected, horseplayers will have a good if not vexing time trying to divine the opening day card as 116 horses were entered overnight in 10 races.
Horizontal players, especially fans of the Late Pick 5, will be challenged with a sequence that features a full field of 2-year-olds, replete with first time starters, and a turf finale at 1-1/2 miles. Rider’s races are always challenging.
Then again we’d be disappointed if the challenge presented were anything less.