Find your 2022 Breeders’ Cup big-priced, upset winners and do a little pre-handicapping by following the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In races.
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is an international series of 82 stakes races. Winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. This year’s Breeders’ cup will be held at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., on Nov. 4-5.
The series began June 11 during Belmont Stakes Day, and many of the races have been held, including two surprising results on Saturday. The Saratoga Race Course meet, already underway, includes six of them.
Next up in the series is The Bing Crosby Stakes at Del Mar, a six-furlong race for horses 3 years old and up, bidding to enter the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.
On Aug. 6, Saratoga will host The Whitney (1 1/8 miles) for a berth in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, and Del Mar will feature the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes (1 1/16 miles) to get into the Breeders Cup Filly & Mares Distaff.
Cyberknife surprises at the Haskell
The Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park welcomed eight top 3-year-olds vying for a free spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Cyberknife scored at 7-1 over highly regarded favorite Jack Christopher (fifth place) and Bob Baffert’s Taiba (second by a neck), registering a track record time of 1:46.24 for 1 1/8 miles. It was Cyberknife’s fourth win in five races this year for trainer Brad Cox, including the Arkansas Derby.
The win also extended an uncanny season of big-race winners with owners carrying local connections. For example, Al Gold of Gold Square grew up watching races at the Oceanport, N.J., track. The same could be said for all three Triple Crown-winning owners.
Cyberknife is pointed to the Travers back at Saratoga on Aug. 27.
Cyberknife surged up the rail under jockey Florent Geroux to nip Taiba, making his first start since finishing 12th in the Kentucky Derby. Taiba reunited with Baffert, who returned to his stable earlier this month after serving a 90-day suspension for Medina Spirit’s drug violation and disqualification in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.
Baffert came into Saturday having won the Haskell a record nine times.
If Taiba moves on to the Travers, he will need a different trainer, as Baffert is suspended from racing at New York Racing Association tracks until January, reported America’s Best Racing, among others.
Jack Christopher (odds were 7-10) has had an electric campaign, but doubters pointed to the distance on Saturday, and sure enough, the Chad Brown-trained horse wilted in the stretch.
Pyledriver wins QE stakes at Ascot
Ignore Pyledriver at your own risk in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The 18-1 long shot easily topped well-known, reputable Broome and Mishriff and up-and-comer 13-8 favorite Westover in the 1 1/2-mile King George VI and Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes (G1) on Saturday at Ascot.
Pyledriver now has seven wins in 17 starts but only one as the favorite; five of his victories have come at double-figure odds. On Saturday, he was ridden by substitute jockey P.J. McDonald, who replaced Frankie Dettori, who was supposed to sit in for regular jockey Martin Dwyer, who is out for the year with a knee injury.
Last year’s Arc winner Torquator Tasso took second. while Westover, racing against older horses for the first time, placed fifth in the six-horse field. Mishriff was third. and Broome took fifth.
Winning trainer William Muir said afterward, as reported by The Paulick Report, “I’ve thought for the last two weeks that we’d win it. He was just showing everything at home, all the signs. When they went hard [in front], they set it up, because he was going to come home harder.”
Pyledriver becomes the fifth horse to earn an automatic starting position. Joining him are Village King, winner of the Gran Premio International Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina; State of Rest, who won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot; Titleholder, who captured the Takarazuka Kinen in Japan; and Nautilus, winner of the Grande Premio Brasil in Brazil.
Notable 2022 Win and You’re In winners
In June, on Belmont Stakes Day, bids went to three winners: Hill’ n’ Metropolitan Handicap winner Flightline earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile; Ogden Phipps (G1) winner Clairiere moves on to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1); and six-year-old Casa Creed defended his Jaipur Stakes title and earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
On July 2 at Churchill Downs, heavy favorite Olympiad improved to a 5-for-5 lifetime record by taking the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) and securing a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race that receives four automatic qualifiers.
Last year, 40 Breeders’ Cup Challenge winners competed in the World Championships at Del Mar, including five championship race winners: Knicks Go, Breeders’ Cup Classic; Yibir, Breeders’ Cup Turf; Ce Ce, Filly & Mare Sprint; Echo Zulu, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; and Corniche, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
Looking further out
The Win and You’re In series will be back in Saratoga on Sept. 3 for the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Flower Bowl. The Jockey Club Gold Cup is a qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, while the Flower Bowl will provide the winner a free starting position in Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
On Sept. 10 at Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Ky., two automatic qualifiers are scheduled. The Calumet Turf Cup (G2) offers an invitation to the Breeders’ Cup Turf, and the Turf Sprint is a Win and You’re In for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Two-year-olds will take center stage at Belmont Park on Oct. 1 for the Champagne and the Miss Grillo Stakes. The Champagne winner will receive a free starting spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and the Miss Grillo winner will gain an invitation to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
The series concludes Oct. 8 and 9 at Keeneland. The Oct. 8 program will be highlighted by the Coolmore Turf Mile, with the winner invited to the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). The Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity gives its winner a free berth at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes provides its winner an invitation into the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
On Oct. 9, it’s the Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (Breeders’ Cup Distaff), the Castle and Key Bourbon Stakes (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf), and the Indian Summer Stakes (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint).
Most of these races will air on NBC. Good luck.