Breeders' Cup

  • Bovada has released odds for this weekend’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, with the sportsbook and racebook indicating that five horses stand above the rest.
  • Going through the strengths and weaknesses of each favorite may make betting on the Breeders’ Cup Classic profitable and easy.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The gates open on Saturday for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, with the top online racebooks and sportsbooks giving five horses odds of 14-1 or shorter to win.

Breeders’ Cup Classic Odds

  • Flightline 4-9 (-225)
  • Epicenter 11-2 (+550)
  • Life Is Good 7-1 (+700)
  • Taiba 8-1 (+800)
  • Olympiad 14-1 (+1400)
  • Hot Rod Charlie 25-1 (+2500)
  • Cyberknife 33-1 (+3300)
  • Rich Strike 33-1 (+3300)
  • Happy Saver 50-1 (+5000)

With Flightline, Epicenter, Life Is Good, Taiba, and Olympiad representing the top tier of betting options at Bovada for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, it may be best to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each favorite heading into the big race.

Betting on Flightline at 4-9 (-225)

Trained by John Sadler and jockeyed by Flavien Prat, Flightline comes rides into the Breeders’ Cup Classic as the outright favorite at Bovada.

Flightline has been dominant thus far in its racing career, with legal horse racing odds strongly dictated by these trends:

  • Flightline has raced in five different races in its young career, winning every single race.
  • According to the widely used Equibase speed figure, Flightline dominates all favorites. Flightline’s speed figure in all career races is 116.8 and rises to 119.33 in Grade 1 races.
  • Every favorite but Taiba has seen their E Speed figure go up on Grade 1 races, which is to be expected because the figure considers the race’s quality. What makes Flightline so dominant relative to other horses is that the colt’s baseline E Speed figure of 116.8 is higher than any other horse’s E Speed figure in only G1 races.
  • Flightline’s average speed figure of 119.33 has only been met in a single race twice in this field: Life Is Good at the Pegasus World Cup (123) and Olympiad in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (121).
  • Flightline’s competitors have shown that they need a career-best race to simply match the betting favorite’s average speed.

The reasons to bet against Flightline at the Breeders’ Cup Classic are minor and relatively nitpicky:

  • Flightline has a relatively limited history relative to fellow favorites, as every favorite but Taiba has at least doubled Flightline’s total of graded races.
  • The Breeders’ Cup Classic is not a career achievement award, with a single slip-up or congestion out of the gate potentially looming as potential hurdles for Flightline to win.

Betting on Epicenter at 11-2 (+550)

After entering the Kentucky Derby as the betting favorite with 7-2 (+350) odds, Epicenter and its team of jockey Joel Rosario and trainer Steven Asmussen enter the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic with less pressure in the public eye.

With less pressure on Epicenter in the Breeders’ Cup, some of the trends that Rosario and Asmussen may be able to take advantage of and potentially win with Epicenter include:

  • The Breeders’ Cup Classic will be a dirt track of 1 1/4th mile, with the distance being key for Epicenter. Epicenter and Olympiad are the only horses that have consistently raced over a mile, with Epicenter’s last eight races all of at least that distance. The history in longer races may be key for Epicenter via endurance, especially over Flightline who has only raced over a mile twice.
    Jockey Joel Rosario has been the most dominant Jockey recently at the Breeders’ Cup Classic, having won the 2018 and 2021 iterations on the backs of Accelerate and Knicks Go.

The case against Epicenter is relatively straightforward:

  • Epicenter has never reached the E Speed figures that the other top contenders in this race have, with the fastest speed Epicenter has achieved being 110 on the E Speed scale. That top speed is beaten out at least once by every favorite and ranks 14th among the fastest speeds of the favorites heading into the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Betting on Life Is Good at 7-1 (+700)

Coming in at third at legal sports betting sites, Life Is Good may be as good a bet as any to take down Flightline at the unofficial fourth leg of the Triple Crown:

  • Life Is Good has only lost once in its career, with that occurring at the H. Allen Jenkins Memorial. That loss can easily be written off given that it was only seven furlongs and that Life Is Good still raced a relatively fast race with a 108 E-Speed.
  • No favorite at the Breeders’ Cup Classic has a history of beating high-level horses quite like Life Is Good. Life Is Good has beaten Medina Spirit (2021 Kentucky Derby winner before eventual disqualification) twice and beat the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Classic winning horse (Knicks Go) all in the last two years.
  • With an E Speed figure of 113.75 in Grade 1 races, Life Is Good has the second-highest average speed amongst the favorites. With a higher floor than other non-Flightline contenders, probability points towards Life Is Good as the best bet to reach the speed necessary to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Outside of the singular loss on Life Is Good’s resume, the causes for concern amongst bettors heading into the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic are:

  • Wear and tear may be a factor as Life Is Good has now been on the horse racing circuit since November 22, 2020, with that experience only being beaten out by Olympiad (September 5, 2020). On top of long-term wear and tear, Life Is Good is also the only horse to have raced since the beginning of October. Of course, the victory at the Woodward Stakes is a plus, but the timing of the race may have been less than ideal.

Betting on Taiba at 8-1 (+800)

Jockeyed by the legendary Mike Smith, who is the winningest jockey in the history of the Breeders’ Cup, Taiba has multiple trends that make the colt a strong betting option at the Breeders’ Cup Classic:

  • Unlike Life Is Good, there is very little tread taken off of Taiba’s hypothetical tires. Taiba has been raced five times in its young career, finishing outside the top two once thus far (the Kentucky Derby), with only two of those races having taken place in the past four months.
  • Taiba achieved a 114 E-Score at the Pennsylvania Derby back in September, which was the highest of the horse’s young career. That upward trend and high top speed are as strong as nearly any horse at the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
  • Jockey Mike Smith may be the oldest rider in the field at 57 years old, but he has won the most races in the history of the World Championships (27), with four of those coming in the Classic itself. Mike Smith’s most recent win at the Breeders’ Cup Classic was in 2016 on the back of Arrogate. Smith’s experience makes for an excellent combination with Taiba’s relative inexperience.

Finding a weakness for Taiba just means that players must focus on the horse’s 12th-placed result at the Kentucky Derby:

  • Taiba did not just come in 12th at the Kentucky Derby, the horse did so while racing at an extremely low E-Score speed of 81. That low of an E-Score is concerning based on the race-based factors that are included when the score is composited.
  • Comparing Taiba’s E-Score at the Kentucky Derby brings along the question of if the horse got stuck with the back or had issues at the beginning of the race as the 81 E-Score pales in comparison to its 108.75 career E-Score average outside of the Derby.

Betting on Olympiad at 14-1 (+1400)

Given the fifth-best chance to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic, betting on Olympiad is based on a few core reasons:

  • Olympiad’s most recent race was a victory at the Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 3. That race was particularly important because it was 1 1/4th mile (the length of the Breeders’ Cup Classic) and the horse will be coming off over two months of rest.
    E-Score speeds indicate that Olympiad may still be improving as a horse, with the colt clearing a 113 E-Score in two of its past three races. Betting on Olympiad is largely a bet on recent momentum.

Despite Olympiad’s presence near the top of the odds boards, a few causes for concern are in place for bettors:

  • Olympiad’s second to most recent race resulted in the horse finishing fourth (Whitney Stakes), while Life Is Good dominated and came out on top.
    Betting on Olympiad to simply show instead of winning may be a better bet, as Olympiad has averaged a third-place finish in all Grade 1 races.
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