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A Preview of the 2022 Breeders’ Cup

Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders’ Cup is a horseracing event that is held annually at the most prestigious racetracks in the US. There are 14 races that are run over various distances, different types of surface and have conditions for the age and sex of the horses that run. The races have purses of either $1 million or $2 million with the exception of the final two races, the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which have purses of $4 million and $6 million, respectively. These last two races have a lot of influence on the Eclipse Awards and Horse of the Year Award.

The event in 2022 will be held from 4 to 5 November at Keeneland, Kentucky, a state renowned for breeding some of the best thoroughbred racing horses in the world.

Types Of Races


Sprints are shorter races that are run over the distance of 5 up to 7 furlongs. In miles this would be distances of ⅝ miles, ¾ miles, and ⅞ miles, though there are also races where horses may run 5 ½ furlongs, which is 11/16 miles. Sprints are usually concluded in about one minute, meaning that they favour horses who can hit their top speeds almost as soon as they come out of the gates. There can be sprints where one horse takes an early lead and then wins in a wire-to-wire victory, but there are also occasions where the race is determined in the final stretch, by a nose.


These are simply races that are run over a distance of 1 mile. In the Breeders’ Cup, there are several mile long races, including the Juvenile Fillies Turf, the Juvenile Turf, the Dirt Mile, and the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Speed is essential when running over the distance of a mile, but more importantly, it requires a good amount of stamina. There are some horses that are better built for shorter races and therefore do not compete in mile long races.


Races that have Juvenile in their title are open to horses aged 2 years old. This condition means that each year there will be different contestants in these races, which can make predicting which horse will win difficult. Just like the other races in the Breeders’ Cup, horses will need to qualify for the juvenile races, and their performance in these races will give some indication to their form, but they will not have as many starts as horses who have been racing for two or three seasons.

Filles and Mares

There are some races that are only open to female runners. Fillies are younger female horses, from the ages of 2 to 3, whilst mares are aged 4 years old and older. There are races that are only open to fillies and some that are open to both fillies and mares. In the latter, the mares will be given slightly heavier weights than the fillies to make the competition more fair.

Dirt or Turf

There are two types of track on which the races are run, which are dirt and turf. Turf courses are thick with deep grass, which is easier on a horse as the ground can soak up the impact of their hooves as they stride, but this will also reduce speed.

Dirt tracks are much faster than turf courses but they are also more physically challenging for horses and riders. Horses not only have to deal with the hard ground but also the dust that hits them as they gallop across the tracks.

Thoroughbred horses either run on dirt or on turf, and rarely run on both. This is because it is very rare that a horse has an anatomy that will be favourable for both surfaces; for grass, it is usually favourable to have taller horses with longer hoofs. On dirt, this can be a disadvantage, as the horses’ hoofs will cut deep into the dirt track making it more work to keep their speed and thus tiring them out faster. In the US, only 10% of thoroughbred racing horses run on turf surfaces.

Trainers To Watch Out For

Brad Cox

Cox won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 2020 and 2021, which puts him amongst the best trainers in the world today. In the 2020 Breeders’ Cup, which was also held at Keeneland, the Kentucky based trainer had four winners. The following year, he won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, for which he won his second Eclipse Award. Cox has won 8 races in the Breeders’ Cup at the young age of 42 year old, and with the 2022 event coming up his horses will be strong candidates to win in each category.

Bob Baffert

It is 30 years since Baffert won his first race at the Breeders’ Cup. He won the Sprint in 1992 with Thirty Slews. Since then, the trainer has gone on to extend his number of victories to 17, with four Breeders’ Cup Classics. He is a hugely respected figure in horseracing because he has achieved two Triple Crowns, in 2015 with American Pharaoh and in 2018 with Justify.

Aidan O’Brien

Though this Irish trainer has had most of his success in Ireland, Britain and in France, he has also trained Breeders’ Cup winners. He has a total of 13 victories at the Breeders’ Cup, winning the Juvenile Turf 4 times and the Turf 6 times. Most recently, he won the Breeders’ Cup Mile, another turf course. He definitely has a better record on turf and in those races in the upcoming Breeders’ Cup, his horses will definitely be ones to look out for.

Wesley Ward

Ward was a jockey until 1989, and during that time, he won an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. In his career as a trainer, he has won five Breeders’ Cup races. His first wins came in 2014 when he won the Juvenile Turf and the Filly & Mare Sprint. His next wins came in 2020 and 2021, when he won the Juvenile Turf Sprint twice, and the Turf Sprint once.

Charlie Appleby

Two years ago, British trainer Appleby had a modest career with wins at a handful of British, French, Irish and German races. He had three wins at the Breeders Cup, one Filly & Mare Turf and two Juvenile Turfs. In last year’s Breeders’ Cup, he clinched a whopping 5 more wins at the Breeders’ Cup to put himself amongst the best. In 2021, he had a great season, winning many major races in the months up to the Breeders’ Cup. In 2022, he has started the year equally well and will be looking to replicate his success from the previous Breeders’ Cup.

Jockeys To Watch Out For

Ryan Moore

Moore is a British jockey who has won five Breeders’ Cup Turf races. Though his last victory came in 2015, he works as a stable jockey for O’Brien and is one of the best on turf tracks.

Irad Ortiz Jr

Ortix is a Puerto Rican jockey who has had a lot of success at the Breeders’ Cup. He has won 14 races at the event, including a Breeders’ Cup Turf and Classic. He has won on both turf and dirt tracks, though he has had more wins on turf.

Frankie Dettori

Dettori is a veteran Italian jockey who has been riding since the 90s. He has had many major wins in numerous countries from around the world. In the Breeders’ Cup, he has 14 wins, including 5 Breeders’ Cup Turfs. His last wins came in 2018, when he won his last Turf and also won the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Joel Rosario

Rosario is from the Dominican Republic and has been riding since the mid 2000s. He is currently at the top of the National Earnings List for jockeys, having won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Whitney Stakes and Pegasus World Cup with Knicks Go. The win was his second Classic and 13th Breeders’ Cup win.

William Buick

This Norwegian-British jockey has had most of his career wins in France and the UK, though he has won major races in several other countries as well, including the US. In 2017, he won the Filly & Mare Turf in the Breeders’ Cup, his first win in the competition. He won in the following year as well, but it was in 2021 when he established himself in the racing event. He won three races in the Breeders’ Cup in that year, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf with Yibir, who went on to be voted the Horse of the Year. In that year, Buick rode horses trained by Charlie Appleby, and the two went from having little success in the Breeders’ Cup to becoming the most formidable duo in the event last year.


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