Most of the speculation regarding the Breeders’ Cup Classic has focused on Grade I Pacific Classic winner Flightline, Grade I Whitney Stakes winner Life is Good, and Grade I Travers Stakes winner Epicenter. Each of these three horses have shown visual brilliance, class, and dominance, so it’s not surprising that they are poised to take much of the money being bet on the Classic.


While it seems likely that all three will perform well, and it is certainly possible that all three may hit the board, bettors would be wise to pair each of the big three with a longer shot to increase potential return. Luckily, the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Contenders by TwinSpires include several talented prospects who have been virtually ignored. Here are Classic entrants you may want to consider:

Hot Rod Charlie

A top three-year-old of 2021, Hot Rod Charlie has won only two starts this year: the Grade II Lukas Classic in October and the Grade II Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 in February. However, his other three 2022 starts- all in graded stakes- resulted in in-the-money finishes.



His third place finish in the Whitney was better than it might seem at first glance. Hot Rod Charlie was in the clear around the first turn but was later carried wide into the five-path. Although he was not a serious threat to winner Life is Good, the son of Preakness winner Oxbow very nearly nipped runner-up Happy Saver at the wire.

Rich Strike

It’s hard to imagine a Kentucky Derby winner being a sleeper horse in any race, but Rich Strike’s win was such a shock that racing fans spent months debating with each other about whether or not “Richie” was a fluke.



His dull Belmont effort may have turned some fans away, but his Travers finish- in which he was a flying fourth and finished a nose and a neck behind Cyberknife and Zandon- gave them a flicker of hope. That flicker glowed brighter when, five weeks later, he ran Hot Rod Charlie to a head in the Lukas Classic. There are still legitimate questions surrounding the son of Keen Ice, such as his ability to close into a more moderate pace, or whether he will be able to get the rail-hugging trip he prefers- but he merits serious consideration in your exotics.

Country Grammer

It is entirely possible that Country Grammer has fallen victim to the same slump that plagues many American-based runners who take a vernal vacation to Dubai. The Dubai World Cup winner has failed to win in three starts since his return to the United States.


While a loss is a loss, of course, these three losses resulted in second-place finishes. In fact, in thirteen-lifetime starts, Country Grammer has failed to hit the board only three times- all before 2022. As a son of Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist, distance is certainly a strong point in his favor.


No horse in the dirt router division has been as consistent a stakes winner as Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Olympiad. The first five starts of the season for this four-year-old son of Speightstown resulted in five wins, four in graded stakes.



His performance in the Whitney was a disappointment, but it was one of only two off-the-board finishes in his twelve-race career. Although his sire Speightstown was a champion sprinter, with a Grade I win at ten furlongs, it seems that Olympiad appreciates a distance of ground.


As a son of Classic winner Gun Runner, we know that Cyberknife has the potential to win at ten furlongs. What we don’t know is whether Cyberknife himself will realize that potential.

Twice, the dual Grade I winner has attempted 1 ¼ miles. The first effort was in this year’s topsy-turvy edition of the Kentucky Derby, and as such can be tossed. The second effort, in the Travers Stakes, was far more promising.

A poor start from Preakness winner Early Voting resulted in Cyberknife being thrust onto the lead, a new experience for the colt. Although he was eventually overwhelmed by Epicenter, Cyberknife kept running and held on for second. This performance, along with a hard-fought victory over Taiba (in track record time) in the Grade I Haskell Stakes, certainly showed that Cyberknife has courage.