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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

BREEDERS’ CUP PICK 5 BEGINS AND ENDS WITH FLIGHTLINE IN SEARCH OF LEGENDARY STATUS

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, November 3, 2022 – There are championship titles on the line and possible scores to be made. But let’s start at the end of Championship Saturday and work our way back from the 39th renewal of Thoroughbred racing’s crowning event, the 48 hours of Breeders’ Cup:

BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC              Race 11         Saturday, November 5, 2022

The Skinny: What, you were expecting something clever from this analysis? Well, then, here it is:

Flightline is historically brilliant, and if his career does not extend beyond Saturday, or if he meets a shockingly similar fate as a Baaeed, or a Bulldog Hanover, no one can ever take away his 128 Beyer rating, his minus 8-1/2 Thoro-Graph figure, or his minus-2 Ragozin stature.

Those statistics belong in a speed-figure time capsule.

An undefeated six-race career and Horse of the Year title would be mere chump change for an animal with his historic zip. Anything less than a blowout victory would be a major disappointment to racing fans, we dare say, the world over.

No disrespect to Spectacular Bid, but the buzz surrounding this horse has not been seen in a half century, a.k.a. the scintillating seventies.

I could bet on Epicenter without apology because that’s what the concept of value demands, but I’m not going to do that. I’m going to key Flightline in a Trifecta part wheel using only Epicenter and Hot Rod Charlie to complete the play. If I’m flush, I will use ALL in the second, fourth and fifth slots of a HI-5, putting myself in a position to make a score.

But I will enjoy the 39th renewal of the Breeders’ Cup Classic because the sport is top of mind with profits finishing a bad second.

I don’t know if an entire country has been distracted by the match race between democracy and autocracy. However, I do know that when the official is posted sometime around 6 pm Saturday, I will accept the result because it’s the responsible and grown-up thing to do.

The sports world needs to know that a phenomenal equine walks among us, and the rest of the world could use two minutes of glorious distraction. So say a prayer for a safe and speedy for Flightline and for all the rest this weekend. Then, on Tuesday, go vote.

PICK 5 RATINGS

A: Flightline

B: Epicenter, Hot Rod Charlie

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Flightline

POTENTIAL EXOTICS VALUE: Hot Rod Charlie, Olympiad

G1 BREEDERS’ CUP SPRINT                                                   Race 7

The Skinny: The race begins, and dare we say ends, with a championship title defense, the final career race of 9-Jackie’s Warrior (4-5) in which he will effort to amass a career slate of (18) 13-2-1.

Some will argue that he doesn’t appear as brilliant in 2022 as he was at 3. Don’t blame the colt; blame it on rivals who would not dare challenge his blazing speed. Early fractions of 22+ and 45+ are but a tad more than open gallops for this guy. He appears unbeatable and comes in fresh.

‘Jackie’ is well drawn outside, just in another speedster looks to commit pace suicide, providing an option for regular partner Joel Rosario. Given that he’s scheduled for stud duty in 2023, we don’t expect Steve Asmussen to leave anything in the tank.

From a betting perspective, we almost wish he wasn’t in this as the filly 2-Kimari (4-1) would have been a much more bettable public choice; she’s fast, 2-for-2 at the trip and (3) 2-1-0 in Lexington. 6-Elite Power (6-1) had his issues at 2 and three but after finishing third in his 4-year-old debut, he broke maiden and won three straight after that including the G2 Vosburgh.

4-American Theorem (10-1) is the west’s fastest gun, Bravo rides him as if he owns him, and Papaprodromou is having a solid year with his sprinters. 8-C Z Rocket (20-1), whose post matches his age, loves Keeneland and benefits from a switch to Prat. 5-Aloha West (12-1) is a live money threat, as is the freshened, improved 10-Willy Boi (30-1).

PICK 5 RATINGS

A: Jackie’s Warrior

B: Kimari, Elite Power

C: American Theorem, C Z Rocket

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Jackie’s Warrior

POTENTIAL VALUE IN ANY POOL: Elite Power, American Theorem, CZ Rocket and Willy Boi

BREEDERS’ CUP MILE                                             Race 8

The Skinny: This time, if you like 4-Modern Games (7-2), bet him and he wins, you will be paid actual money. His merits are obvious. A defending Breeders’ Cup champion, his G1 Woodbine Mile score was dominating, his turn of foot electric. In a fashion, his placing on soft ground at Ascot spoke louder in that he struggled over the course but still finished up courageously to gain the place. His turn of foot should prove the difference in a race with plenty of speed signed on.

Got to love the mare 8-Regal Glory (6-1), big won value on the early line. Her stalking style, widish draw and love of the trip (14) 7-5-0 gives her an excellent upset chance. 14-Domestic Spending (8-1) is a huge ask, going a mile off a year’s layup from post 14. But Prat is the pilot and Chad the engineer; he’s worked himself into the race.

10-Order of Australia (12-1), a Breeders’ Cup winner a few years back, is rounding back into top form, improving with blinkers, and reunites with Ryan Moore.  11-Annapolis (10-1) jumped up to win the G1 Turf Mile over the course, has Irad and 3YO gets three pounds. 5-Smooth Like Strait (10-1) is fast and uber consistent but highly likely to be pressured. 13-Kinross (9-2), as mentioned yesterday, we’re hair splitting trying to beat this well regarded Euro but wide draw and lack of deep ground works against the 5YO here. [ Ed Note: Should it rain, now back as possible in the forecast, Upgrade to an “A” Pick 5 Rating (1103122 at 3:15 pm) ]

PICK 5 RATINGS

A: Modern Games, Regal Glory

B: Domestic Spending, Order of Australia, Annapolis

C: Smooth Like Strait, Kinross

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  Modern Games

POTENTIAL VALUE IN ANY POOLS: Regal Glory, Order of Australia, Annapolis

BREEDERS’ CUP DISTAFF                                         Race 9

The Skinny: Is this handicapping puzzle as simple as “which Todd do you like?” Hold that thought for a minute while I pose another puzzle: “Who is going to challenge 8-Society (6-1) on the lead?” On paper, at least, no one. And she’s been very cleverly campaigned by Steve Asmussen, has gotten good at precisely the right time.

Of course, the race goes through the Todd Team of 6-Nest 9-5) and 1-Malathaat (3-1). The former is the divisional leading 3-year-old filly and has flirted with becoming America’s best sophomore, period, but looms an underlay. But her older mate is a defending champion who owns fast figures and delivers them with consistency. Johnny will keep her relatively close. Pick your poison: Nest 3-for-4 at the trip or Malathaat, 3-for-3. Offers value at early-line odds.

Noting that, 4-Clairiere (4-1) has defeated her twice. Her last is a complete toss as she lost it badly in the gate and never got into the race—never. Rosario has been aboard for her three most recent wins and we’re sure he and Asmussen have figured something out. 7-Search Results (9-2) never runs a bad race and while 2-Blue Stripe (20-1) had never faced the likes of these, she’s been training up a storm at Keeneland; fodder for the exotica mill.

PICK 5 RATINGS:

A: Malathaat, Nest

B: Clairiere, Society

C: Search Results

MOST PROBABLE WINNER:  Nest

POTENTIAL VALUE IN ANY POOL: Malathaat, Clairiere, Society

BREEDERS’ CUP TURF                                         Race 10

The Skinny: Us vs. them and surprise, surprise, we like America’s chances, more specifically Bill Mott’s and his all-star filly, 2-War Like Goddess (9-2). While some will point to a perfect garden trip off soft fractions, we’ll concentrate on improved tactical speed, a first, and the fact she’s never been beaten here (2-for-2) or at the trip (5-for-5). Trust me; it’s near impossible to go undefeated in as many starts with a deep closer in mostly pace-less races. Fillies know how to win this race; I’ll take three pounds and Joel. Of course, they have the Euros to beat.

So, which import: one of Charlie Appleby’s par, one of the O’Brien pair, or John Gosden’s world travelling 11-Mishriff (6-1), making the final start of his career and reuniting with Hollywood Frankie? While it’s true he may have lost a step this season, he’s still very good and classy enough.

Appleby will saddle the two early favorites and it’s a jump ball: 5-Rebel’s Romance (3-1) has come to hand as a gelded 4-year-old and Appleby has chosen the Group 1 path of least resistance, having taken his last two in Germany. Pointed specifically, this would be his fifth straight score. Barn mate 7-Nation’s Pride (7-2) has good spacing and loves the ground he gets in the U.S. with main go-to William Buick in the boot.

4-Broome (12-1) ran a winning race in the Turf at Del Mar but settled for place behind the relentless Yibir. He had a terrible trip in Saratoga’s G1 Sword Dancer this year and still nearly pulled it off and his two recent losses at home came on soft ground, something he won’t have to deal with here. Likely stalker Channel Maker (30-1) is honest and could land a minor share; better than the early line indicates.

PICK 5 RATINGS

A: War Like Goddess, Rebel’s Romance, Nation’s Pride, Mishriff and Broome

MOST PROBABLE WINNER: War Like Goddess

POTENTIAL VALUE IN ANY POOL: War Like Goddess, Mishriff, Broome

Any exotics should be made at minimums available. Straight wagers, proportionately, are in $2 units or greater

reminder that this column is live

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23 Responses

  1. JP–In a memorable Washington Post column from 1986, Andy Beyer credited you with being the first person to spring into action, confront the stewards, and object to Allumeuse being denied her rightful win at Saratoga after the “official” was posted. You were rightfully upset that the wrong horse had been disqualified by the stewards and that an injustice had been inflicted upon connections of Allumeuse as well as her backers at the betting windows.

    Far be it from me to draw any parallels between horse racing and politics, but since you did, I believe your noteworthy and decisive action in 1986 demonstrates that protesting the result after the official sign is posted is sometimes a highly responsible and “grown up” thing to do–at least at the racetrack!
    Thanks to you and others who are not afraid to decry injustice when they see it, here’s hoping we are spared from another Allumeuse incident! Best of luck with your Breeder’s Cup selections!

  2. Allemeuse and autocracy? Seems like a false equivalency to me.

    Agreed, Chuck, sometimes questioning a result is a highly responsible thing to do.

    Questioning the result of, say, the 2020 election, however, the most researched, re-counted and litigated issue in my political lifetime is an obfuscating defense of indefensible election denialism. Not one objection was upheld–not even in Arizona.

    I will err on the side of democracy every time, policy be damned. But maybe that’s just me…

    But the oblique reference was the lack of attention being paid to perhaps one of the sport’s all-time greats, yet to be determined, of course. So glad that’s why they run the races.

    Happy Breeders’ Cup, neighbor! I would love to be watching it at Saratoga Harness, but alas…

  3. JP–
    I too wish we were together at Saratoga Harness track to take in the Breeders’ Cup action! Always a fun weekend of world class racing coupled with local harness action–and here’s a harness/thoughbred trivia question for you. Which well known thoroughbred trainer won a Breeders’ Crown championship race this past weekend at Woodbine Mohawk?
    Answer: Wesley Ward who is a co-owner of King of the North who won the 3yo colt trot. Now if Wesley Ward can win a Breeders’ Cup race this weekend as a trainer, that would be quite the daily double!

  4. Indeed, an embarrassment of riches for WW. I saw King of the North. Not many trotters steal races but wow, he blow the race wide open on the turn; good stuff…

  5. Cold trifecta John! WooHoo! Hope you cashed it. Incredible pick! Over $900 for a buck. Keep it going. That makes all the hard work worthwhile.

    1. Rewards do make the hard work worth it. But as we all say after a losing day, time to turn the page. Same thing after a winning day. Saturday, we all start out even. But thank you Stephen!

      1. PS; Giacomo, 2005 Kentucky Derby winner with M.Smith on top at odds of 50-1. How i picked him ? Simple,my native name !! Hey,once in a while we have to put the numbers down and go against the flow,,,

    2. Nice pick,indeed which makes me wonder if,in his long horse racing career, Pricci has had some favorite and unforgettable ‘Hits’,triples or gimmick bets which he could share or mention.Mine was Giacomo`s win at long odds in a Big race. Yesterday,watching Whitmore and Lavaman relaxing in their retired , easy living life it reminded me of when i saw John Henry `s smart look, a look with hundreds of stories and adventures on the track. ” If They Only Could Talk “. Just found out that a former friend of ours in the Restaurant field is now taking care of retired,injured horses in a sprawling piece of Upstate New York land with monetary assists and tax breaks from the state. That`s another winner to me…more so than when he owned harness horses………..

  6. Saturday November 5,2022
    Breeder’s cup Saturday

    3rd-Franks Rockette(6-1)Key with all the obvious contender’s

    4th-HUNCH BET-How would you like to bet a Charles Appleby horse owned by Godolphin and sending their regular rider(Doyle) to ride the horse? This horse has been beaten 20 length’s in his last 2 races, he finished 12th and 11th. Hmmm. Why would they pay to ship this horse to the breeder’s cup? Did I mention he’s 30-1? and beat the second favorite Highfield Princess. As early as June and July he was time forming around 120. That’s my deal. Put him with Campanelle, Golden Pal and Arrest Me Red for a BOMB score!!!!!!

    5th-Cody’s Wish(5/2) and box with Pipeline(8-1)

    6th-Above the Curve and In Italian look tough use Nashwa and Rougir to complete you trips and super’s.

    7th-box Jackies Warrior, Kimari, Elite Power and American Theorem.

    8th-Hard race so let’s box Regal Glory, Ivar(watch the tote), Annapolis and Smooth like Strait

    9th-It’s Nest’s race to lose and if he does it will come from Search Results. Use Malathaat and Society to get the exotic score.

    10th-Too many to count so let’s do this and let the tote tell us. Rebel Romance, Broome, Mishriff, Stone Age and War Like Goddess seem to be the contender’s.

    11th-Flightline is in the way of any score so let’s try and beat him. Flightline is coming back on 63 days rest. I know, plenty of time BUT it’s the least amount of time he ever came back on, off the fastest time anyone has run in decades, going a mile and a quarter that he really isn’t bred to do. The pick here is Olympiad(10-1)If he runs back to his Foster he’s in with a chance. Mott will have him ready. Use Taiba, Hot Rod Charlie and of course Flightline.

    May all the horses and jockey’s come home safe. Let’s go get dem bad guy’s!!!! Enjoy.

    1. Interesting bomb is Naval Crown. I rated him 5th on my personal class scale, which out of nine in with some sort of chance–beyond the Ward favorites, of course. A safe and speedy journey to all…

  7. Rooting for you Dan, a safe and speedy journey to your choices and all the competitors, human and equine…

  8. Watching the replays of the Breeders’ Cup Distaff shows us why we absolutely LOVE this game. What a finish! Three dead game race horses hoping to reach the wire first!! What a fantastic race!!

  9. With the exception of Flightline, this was the race I wanted to see most and going in, and as you say, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Great effort from all three!

  10. Frightline being compared to Secretariat ? Would like to see how he would do against Seattle Slew,Alydar and Affirmed first just to mention some equine athletes that were outstanding in the mid seventies through the 80 s .Just like in boxing, there seemed to be more and better competitors in flat racing in that era,,or am I wrong ? Better muscle cars.Mini skirts.Rock music. Not saying this just because I was in the prime of my ( single) life,..😁😄

  11. As predicted Flightline did not disappoint on any level. He is the best of his generation hands down and honestly I do believe he should be in the conversation as one of the BEST of all times.

    Did you not find it most interesting yesterday, when it time time for all the NBC talking heads to make their prediction on the Classic. They didn’t give predict Flightline would win but they predicted by how many lengths he would win by. I have never heard a lengths prediction in my 40 plus years of watching horse races.

    I agree with Randy Moss who I considered the best race analysis, Flightline is worthy of being discussed with the likes of Secretariat, Seattle Slew and War Admiral and as the very best ever.

    Like many racing fans, I too wonder how he would fair against these greats but I’m confident he beats both Triple Crown winners; American Pharoah and Justify. That for me is more than enough evidence to put him in the conversation for all time Best.

    1. Cannot disagree with any of your observations Tony. In it’s way, it was even more impressive than his Pacific Classic. Who could have thought that possible. I too loved the idea that the talent picked margins of victory other than who would win. I personally set the over-under at 8 with Toni–but I never thought that would be with being eased over the line. There are no words…

  12. As impressive as Flightline was in beating a solid group of Classic contenders, the most impressive dirt race of the day may have been 2yo Arabian Knight’s sparkling debut– stopping the timer in an amazing 1:21.4 for 7f. Can’t wait to see Arabian Knight compete as a 3yo, but unless the colt switches to a different trainer, he will not be able to enter the Kentucky Derby.

    1. As the running time went up on the board after watching his performance, I turned to Toni and said “we, he won’t be running in the Derby.” Actions have consequences. However, in no way would I equate his performance to Flightline’s. It’s apples and elephants…

  13. It is unfortunate that Flightline will probably be retired. Elliott Walden said that to keep Justify racing, insurance alone would have cost $4 Million. From a financial perspective, continued racing vs. breeding isn’t even worth a discussion among the owners.

    1. Considering that was close to yesterday’s winner’s share, that just breaks my heart. Justify was a mere three year old who had too much racing compressed into a short and highly stressful five week Triple Crown campaign. Flightline has had three races all year, a six-race campaign in 21 months. He will be syndicated somewhere close to the nine-figure range. For fans over every stripe, this sucks. Period.

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