Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) winner Life Is Good and Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) winner Olympiad headline the 1 1/8-mile, $1 million Whitney Stakes (G1) at historic Saratoga Race Course, as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series continues this Saturday live on NBC and Peacock at 5 p.m. ET, with an automatic starting position into the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on the line.
The Whitney Stakes is the fourth program this year in the “Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series: Win and You’re In – presented by America’s Best Racing” on NBC, Peacock, and CNBC from some of North America’s most iconic racetracks. The series leads to the 39th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, on Nov. 4-5. The complete series TV schedule can be accessed here and the NBC Sports programming schedule can be found here.
Saturday’s live coverage from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. will also include the $500,000 Longines Test Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old fillies.
NBC Sports’ coverage will feature commentary and discussion led by host Britney Eurton, analysts Randy Moss and Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, winner of 15 Breeders’ Cup races including five victories in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, reporter Nick Luck, and handicapper Eddie Olczyk.
The morning line favorite Life Is Good, a 4-year-old colt owned by CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm LLC, and trained by Todd Pletcher, has won seven of nine starts. He won last year’s Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Del Mar and opened this year defeating Knicks Go, last year’s Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, by 3 ¼ lengths in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park in January. Following a fourth-place finish in the Dubai World Cup (G1) in March, Life Is Good captured the 7-furlong John A. Nerud Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park on July 2 by 5 lengths. Life Is Good will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. from post six.
Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable, LLC, and LNJ Foxwoods’ Olympiad, the 2-1 second choice, is undefeated this year in five starts. He won his last two races at Churchill Downs, taking the Alysheba Stakes (G2) over Happy Saver, and then earned an automatic berth into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic on July 2 when he won the 1/8-mile Stephen Foster Stakes by 2 ¼ lengths over Americanrevolution.
Olympiad is trained by Bill Mott, who campaigned Cigar to an undefeated season of 10 victories in 1995, which culminated with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Mott also won the Breeders’ Cup Classic with Drosselmeyer in 2011. Olympiad will be ridden by Junior Alvarado from post four.
Boat Racing, LLC, Gainesway Stable, Roadrunner Racing and William Strauss’ 4-year-old Hot Rod Charlie will be making his Saratoga debut. Trained by Doug O’Neill, Hot Rod Charlie, who won last year’s Pennsylvania Derby (G1), finished second in this year’s Dubai World Cup and was second in the Salvator Mile (G2) at Monmouth Park on June 18. Seeking his fifth career win, Hot Rod Charlie will be ridden by Flavien Prat from post two.
Pletcher has two other starters for the Whitney in CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm LLC’s Americanrevolution, and Wertheimer and Frere’s Happy Saver. The 4-year-old Americanrevolution, winner of last year’s Cigar Mile (G1), has won five of nine starts. Americanrevolution finished fourth in the listed Blame Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 4 prior to his runner-up finish in the Stephen Foster. Luis Saez has the mount, breaking from post one.
Happy Saver, the 2020 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) winner, is seeking his first win this year. After his runner-up finish in the Alysheba, the 5-year-old ran second behind Flightline, the top-rated horse in the latest Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic Rankings, in the Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap (G1) at Belmont Park on June 11. John Velazquez has the mount on Happy Saver, breaking from post two.
Gary Barber’s 6-year-old gelding Zoomer steps into Grade 1 company for the first time. A son of 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner Curlin, Zoomer captured a 1 1/8-mile claiming race at Saratoga by 7 lengths on July 17. Trained by Mark Casse, Zoomer will be ridden from post three by Joel Rosario.
As part of the benefits of the Challenge Series, Breeders’ Cup will pay the entry fees for the Whitney winner to start in the World Championships. Breeders’ Cup will also provide a $10,000 travel allowance for all starters based outside of Kentucky to compete in the World Championships.
Over the years, the Whitney and the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic have had a strong connection. Six Whitney winners also captured the Classic in the same year: Awesome Again (1998), Invasor (ARG) (2006), Blame (2010), Fort Larned (2012), Gun Runner (2017), and Knicks Go (2021).
In the 7-furlong Longines Test Stakes, Godolphin’s Matareya is the prohibitive favorite based upon her four wins in four starts this year. Trained by Brad Cox, Matareya comes into the Test off a 6 ¼-length victory in the 1-mile Acorn Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on June 11. Michael Dubb and Michael J. Caruso’s Hot Peppers has won five of six starts this year, including the Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont on July 9 for trainer Rudy Rodriguez.
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The 2022 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, is scheduled to be held on November 4-5 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky. The Championships will be televised live by NBC Sports. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup website, breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media.