Breeders’ Cup Classic Odds & Expert Analysis: Bet Taiba at a Nice Price

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The 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic is set for Saturday at Keeneland, and veteran horse racing oddsmaker Paul Zilm is here to give readers all they need to succeed at the betting window.

Zilm sets the Breeders’ Cup Classic odds at Circa Sports in Las Vegas. He’s a big fan of Flightline, the betting favorite in the eight-horse field. But Zilm also looks at backing a mid-range price that offers better value.

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2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic: Post Positions, Odds, Jockeys, Trainers

Here are post positions, morning-line odds, jockeys, and trainers for the eight horses entered in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Post time is approximately 5:42 p.m. on Saturday, and NBC has live coverage from Keeneland.

PPHorseML OddsJockey Trainer
1Flightline3-5Flavien PratJohn Sadler
2Life Is Good5-1Irad Ortiz Jr.Todd Pletcher
3Epicenter6-1Joel RosarioSteve Asmussen
4Taiba8-1Mike SmithBob Baffert
5Hot Rod Charlie15-1Tyler GaffalioneDoug O'Neill
6Olympiad15-1Junior AlvaradoBill Mott
7Rich Strike20-1Sonny LeonEric Reed
8Happy Saver 30-1John VelazquezTodd Pletcher

Note: Morning-line odds are simply a prediction by track handicappers of what each horse’s price will be. They have no bearing on the odds a bettor ultimately receives on a bet. With pari-mutuel wagering, odds are determined by the amount of money bet on each entry, and closing odds are the prices at which each bet is effective.

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Is Flightline a Worthy Favorite?

Flightline, trained by John Sadler and ridden by Flavien Prat, will compete against seven other Grade 1 winners in Saturday’s Classic. He is a perfect five-for-five with wins in all of his career starts. Some of the victories have been awe-inspiring, including a 19 1/4-length win in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar in early September.

“He has destroyed his competition,” Zilm said of Flightline. “It’s hard to find anything in his races that raise concern. He is lightly raced for a horse ending his four-year old campaign, so his connections have been extremely careful of where they place him.”

Zilm noted that Flightline drew the No. 4 post position — outside of Life Is Good — and that could impact the early pace of the race. The 1 1/4-mile distance could be a concern for Life Is Good, who finished a career-worst fourth over 10 furlongs in the Dubai World Cup back in March.

“Life Is Good probably has to go from the 2-hole,” Zilm said. “I think it is his only chance to win. I think that should ensure a fast pace with Flightline either going with him or sitting just off of him. Now whether it’s a ‘chaotic’ fast pace or not, that’s the question. I expect to see a somewhat hot first quarter.”

Jockey Mike Smith will be back aboard Taiba in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Classic. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey).

Taiba Checks in as Top Value Play

Taiba starts from the rail for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has won the Breeders’ Cup Classic on four occasions with three-year-olds. Taiba won the Santa Anita Derby before struggling en route to a 12th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. “Money” Mike Smith will be back aboard Taiba, and the duo is coming off a Grade 1 win in the Pennsylvania Derby the last time out.

“Taiba is the horse other than Flightline I like best,” Zilm said. “He had a nice win in the Pennsylvania Derby, and has worked five times since that race. If he breaks clean, he can carve out a nice trip from the rail pending the pace scenario ahead of him.

“If he holds at 8-to-1 (moneyline odds) or better, I think you can take a shot. I opened him at 10-to-1, and would be a little surprised if he’s higher than that.”

Any Love for Longshot Happy Saver? 

Happy Saver was the longest shot on the betting board when morning lines were released. This is an intriguing betting opportunity for a couple of reasons. First, the Hall of Fame trainer-jockey combination of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez. That coupled with the fact that longshot Rich Strike won this year’s Kentucky Derby at odds of 81-to-1.

Happy Saver won the first five races of his career, but his last victory came at Belmont in May 2021. Zilm’s not a proponent of betting Happy Saver to win the Classic, but he’s not discounting him altogether by any means. He could help factor into nice trifecta and superfecta payouts.

“You have Pletcher and Johnny V at anywhere from 25-to-1 to 50-to-1 with this horse, which happens maybe once or twice a year,” he said. “So completely throwing out the horse would be a mistake in my opinion. If you are playing exotic tickets, the horse has shown consistency for the most part in hitting the board.

“You should get a price to spice things up underneath on those tickets should you decide to go that route. That’s how I would use this horse.”    

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About the Author
Kris Johnson

Kris Johnson

Writer & Contributor
Kris Johnson is a Senior Writer at Gaming Today with more than 15 years of experience as a sports journalist. Kris' work has appeared in Sports Business Daily, Sports Business Journal, NASCAR Illustrated, and more. Kris also authored a sports betting novel entitled The Endgame.

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