Breeders Cup Posts Record 9M Handle, Flightline Stays Perfect in Classic Performance
This weekend’s Breeders’ Cup races at Keeneland set a wagering record according to event organizers.
Considered the world championships for thoroughbred racing, the two-day card at the Lexington, KY track generated an all-sources handle of $189.1 million. That’s a 3.4% increase over the previous high mark of $182.9 million, set last year at Del Mar in California.
The Breeders’ Cup is one of the biggest events in racing, with only the Kentucky Derby eclipsing it from a betting perspective. This year’s Derby Day card at Churchill Downs generated a record handle of $273.8 million.
Nearly two-thirds of the Breeders’ Cup handle, $122.9 million, came on Saturday, which featured the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic won by Flightline. That one-day handle was bigger than the wagering activity for either the Preakness Stakes or Belmont Stakes cards this year.
“We witnessed a spectacular two days of racing capped by Flightline’s absolute brilliance in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, once again showcasing the best Thoroughbreds from around the world and we want to thank our partners here at Keeneland, who did a phenomenal job, and the greater Lexington community,” said Breeders’ Cup president and CEO Drew Fleming.
Attendance increased as well, with 85,824 fans attending Friday and Saturday, up from 47,089 last year. The on-track handle was $28.3 million.
Next year, the Breeders’ Cup returns to Santa Anita, where it was last held in 2019.
Flightline Takes Off Again
In the main event, the $6 million Classic, odds-on favorite Flightline once again did not disappoint.
With Flavien Prat aboard, Flightline and Life Is Good broke away from the rest of the field heading into the first turn. Flightline then stalked Life Is Good along the backstretch before catching up to him in the final turn and drove away in convincing fashion as they hit the stretch. He ran the 1-1/4 miles in 2:00.05.
The 4-year-old colt won by eight-and-a-quarter lengths and maintained his perfect record in his six-race career. Trainer John Sadler called it “a beautiful ride” by Prat and said that Flightline proved he’s one of the all-time greats.
Flightline entered the Breeders’ Cup having won his first five races by an average of more than 12.5 lengths.
He shows so much talent,” Prat said of Flightline. “We were expecting a great run from him. He was an old pro. He broke sharp… he was traveling well and relaxed well down the backside. I felt like was in control the whole race.”
Flightline, at 2-5 odds, paid $2.88, $2.92, and $2.30 on $2 win, place, and show bets. Second-place Olympiad paid $12.38 and $7.16, and Taiba paid $4 for third.
Epicenter, who went off as the second-choice in the Classic, pulled up along the backstretch after suffering a right forelimb injury midway through the race.
According to PaulickReport.com, Epicenter suffered a displaced condylar fracture in his right front leg was expected to undergo surgery on Sunday.
The favorite to become this year’s 3-year-old champion, Epicenter won the Louisiana Derby and was the favorite in Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but lost both of those in the final strides. He rebounded from those disappointing losses to win the Jim Dandy and Travers this summer at Saratoga Race Course.
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