The Pennsylvania Derby is once more a breeding ground for the Breeders’ Cup.
Taiba, who captured the signature event at Parx Racing back in September, now tries to complete an epic season by winning the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, this Saturday at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky.
Pennsylvania marked an excellent launch point for Taiba into the race that will determine Horse of the Year honors.
The California-based three-year-old won his last dress rehearsal for the Breeders’ Cup by coming east in September. It worked out not only for Taiba, but for trainer Bob Baffert, who captured an unprecedented fourth Pennsylvania Derby.
The victory extended a gradual improvement line for Taiba, who caught the attention of the racing world early in the winter campaign. He reeled off Beyer speed figures above 100 in his first two outings. In only his second race, Taiba won the Santa Anita Derby.
Breeders’ Cup Classic odds and post positions
The following shows this year’s post position for every horse, along with their opening odds to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic:
- Taiba, 8-1
- Life Is Good, 6-1
- Happy Saver, 30-1
- Flightline, 3-5
- Hot Rod Charlie, 15-1
- Epicenter, 5-1
- Olympiad, 10-1
- Rich Strike, 20-1
Pennsylvania Derby winner aims for Breeders’ Cup
Taiba’s efforts propelled him into the Kentucky Derby, where he ran well to the final turn and could not get the final quarter. The 1 1/4-mile race proved to be too long for him. Taiba was outrun down the stretch and finished 12th on the first weekend in May.
Fast forward to July and he ran a game second to Cyberknife in a memorable stretch duel at the Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
But at the Pennsylvania Derby, Taiba showed more seasoning and prevailed by three lengths at 1 1/8 miles. He also turned the tables on Cyberknife, who finished third.
That’s been the story of the balanced three-year-old circuit. Who is hot lately? Who is blossoming now?
Taiba impressed the horse racing world by winning a stakes race outside of his native California, by prevailing in a big field and by winning as a stalker. He ran in place behind the early speed, made a move around the turn and won handily.
Now he must stretch out to 1 1/4 miles, a daunting task by itself.
2022 Breeders’ Cup preview
Taiba also has his work cut out for him in the talented Breeders’ Cup Classic field. The race is headlined by Flightline, viewed as a once-in-a-generation horse. Flightline is not only five-for-five, but he toyed with the field in winning the TVG Pacific Classic by more than 19 lengths on Labor Day Weekend.
Flightline has the circuit’s best Beyer figure of 126, recorded in that race.
Epicenter, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, managed to unfurl a 112 as his best. Epicenter has been a consistent performer and was able to get a big win in his column by capturing the Travers Stakes at Saratoga.
Taiba managed a career-high 108 at the Pennsylvania Derby.
Another good stalking trip would offer Taiba his best chance to win the big one. Life Is Good, Flightline and Epicenter, among others, are expected to be near the pace early.
Flightline is clearly the best horse, and may be less than even money at post time. The key to the race becomes whether or not Flightline is embroiled in a speed duel at any point. If so, that opens the doors for others.
Taiba is one of the better horses in this field. If he catches a break in terms of the pace, and if he continues his steady improvement pattern, he’ll be right there.
Keystone State horse race betting fans haven’t seen a blockbuster Breeders’ Cup performance by the Pennsylvania Derby winner in several years. Bayern captured that race in 2014 and went on to win the Breeders’ Cup.
Hot Rod Charlie prevailed in the signature Parx race last year and secured fourth in the Classic behind Knicks Go. He has been listed as a starter in the Classic field and is a sentimental hard knocker. Hot Rod Charlie rarely wins these days, but is usually in the money.
Analyzing the 2022 Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup is a star-studded affair over two days. The $31 million in prize money is awarded over both of them.
Friday showcases five juvenile races. Dubbed as Future Stars Friday, it carries total purses of $7 million.
The opening day offers Pennsylvania bettors an excellent chance to assess how the track is playing. Keeneland usually favors speed. Jockeys like to have their horses placed forward in order to win. But horses can make mammoth rallies on the turf.
The Friday package begins at 3 p.m. and there are races approximately every 40 minutes. Saturday’s nine-race program starts at 11:50 a.m., with the Breeders’ Cup Classic scheduled for 5:40 p.m.
Simplification, who finished fourth in the 2022 Pennsylvania Derby, has been listed to run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Breeders’ Cup betting tips
This is the ultimate visual experience for horse racing fans. Imagine seeing the World Series or Super Bowl 14 times in two days.
Pick your spots and budget accordingly. The fields are so talented, one can be tempted to load up on every race. But in the real world, most of us can’t.
Give strong consideration to the win and place line. The abundance of money wagered gives them a better price than one would see any other time, with the possible exception of the Kentucky Derby.
A horse one might view as a 5-2 selection can go off at 4-1. A horse can pay $8 to place, when one might expect $5. This is financial music to the ears of the bettors who thrive in those categories.
Above all, enjoy it. This is the culmination of the thoroughbred racing season and a glimpse at 2023.