Meet the 2022 Breeders' Cup Mile contenders

November 3rd, 2022

Handicapper J. Keeler Johnson takes a horse-by-horse look at pre-entries for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland, exploring the pros and cons of each contender.

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Annapolis winning the Coolmore Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland (Photo by Coady Photography)


Pros: Speedy three-year-old defeated older rivals in the Coolmore Turf Mile (G1) over the course and distance of the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Cons: He’s facing a deep contingent of European raiders in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Bayside Boy winning the Queen Elizabeth II (G1) at Ascot (Photo by Megan Ridgwell/Ascot Racecourse)

Bayside Boy

Pros: Unleashed a strong finish to win the prestigious one-mile Queen Elizabeth II (G1) in England three weeks before the Breeders’ Cup.

Cons: He’s done his best work over soft ground and might not encounter his preferred footing at Keeneland.

Beyond Brilliant winning the Hollywood Derby (G1) at Del Mar (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Beyond Brilliant

Pros: The 2021 Hollywood Derby (G1) winner led all the way to nab a quick renewal of the Oct. 1 City of Hope Mile (G2).

Cons: He’s never run outside of California and is stepping up in class for the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Domestic Spending winning the Saratoga Derby at Saratoga (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Domestic Spending

Pros: Powerful stretch runner has won three Grade 1 races, including a strong renewal of the 1 1/4-mile Manhattan (G1).

Cons: He’s done his best work racing 1 1/8 miles or farther and hasn’t run since August 2021.

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Pros: Trounced 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order of Australia to win the one-mile Prix du Moulin de Longchamp (G1) by 5 1/2 lengths.

Cons: She’s achieved her signature victories over good-to-soft ground and might not find that footing at Keeneland.

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Front Run the Fed winning the 2019 Better Talk Now S. at Saratoga (Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)

Front Run the Fed

Pros: His biggest win to date came racing one mile in Saratoga’s 2019 Better Talk Now S.

Cons: He’s never won a graded stakes and has been more effective as a sprinter in recent years.

Gear Jockey winning the Turf Sprint (G3) at Kentucky Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

Gear Jockey

Pros: Occasionally fires a strong shot against quality competition, most notably winning the 2021 Turf Sprint (G3) at Kentucky Downs.

Cons: He’s 0-for-5 this season and hasn’t contested a route race since the spring of 2021.

Ivar winning the 2020 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland (Photo by Coady Photography)


Pros: Talented miler won the 2020 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) over this course and distance and ran third in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1).

Cons: Proved no match for possible Breeders’ Cup Mile favorite Modern Games when second by 5 1/2 lengths in the Sept. 17 Woodbine Mile (G1).

King Cause

Pros: Produced a career-best effort to lead all the way in the Knickerbocker (G3) at Aqueduct last time out.

Cons: He’s never contested a Grade 1 race and is stepping up in class for the Mile.

Kinross winning the British Champions Sprint (G1) at Ascot (Photo by Megan Ridgwell/Ascot Racecourse)


Pros: Red-hot sprinter has won four straight group stakes, including the Prix de la Foret (G1) and British Champions Sprint (G1).

Cons: He excels over soft ground rather than firm turf and is running back just three weeks after the British Champions Sprint.


Pros: Finished a good second behind Kinross in the Prix de la Foret (G1) and showed an affinity for U.S. racing when running second by half a length in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

Cons: Hasn’t managed to win at the Grade/Group 1 level and is facing her fiercest challenge yet in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Modern Games winning the 2021 Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Del Mar (Photo by

Modern Games

Pros: The 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner is 2-for-2 in North America. Two starts back, he smashed the Woodbine Mile (G1) by 5 1/4 lengths.

Cons: He ran a hard race just three weeks ago when coming home second against Bayside Boy in the Queen Elizabeth II (G1).

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Order of Australia winning the 2020 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland (Photo by Coady Photography/Keeneland)

Order of Australia

Pros: Upset the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Keeneland and regularly cracks the top three against Grade 1 and Group 1 competition.

Cons: He couldn’t outkick Annapolis and Ivar when finishing third in the Oct. 8 Coolmore Turf Mile (G1) over this course and distance.


Pros: Veteran of 37 starts has three group stakes wins to his credit, including a recent score in the Challenge (G2) in England.

Cons: He hasn’t cracked the exacta in three previous starts at the highest level.

Regal Glory winning the Just a Game (G1) at Belmont Park (Photo by Viola Jasko/Coglianese Photos)

Regal Glory

Pros: Three-time Grade 1 winner has been a force to reckon with against elite fillies and mares, and trainer Chad Brown won this race with the mare Uni in 2019.

Cons: She finished second without a clear excuse when facing males in the Fourstardave H. (G1) during the summer at Saratoga.

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Saffron Beach (Photo by Megan Ridgwell/Ascot Racecourse)

Saffron Beach

Pros: Accomplished miler counts the Prix Rothschild (G1) and Matron (G1) among her 2022 victories.

Cons: Exits an eighth-place finish in the Sun Chariot (G1) and missed the trifecta in her lone previous start against males.

Shirl's Speight winning the Maker's Mark Mile (G1) at Keeneland (Photo by Coady Photography)

Shirl’s Speight

Pros: Displayed an affinity for Keeneland when upsetting the Maker’s Mark Mile (G1) during the spring.

Cons: He’s gone 0-for-4 since the Maker’s Mark Mile, most recently finishing a distant fourth against Modern Games in the Woodbine Mile (G1).

Smooth Like Strait winning the War Chant S. at Churchill Downs (Photo by Coady Photography)

Smooth Like Strait

Pros: Finished second by half a length in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Mile and consistently holds his own against Grade 1 competition.

Cons: He’s prone to settling for minor awards and hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since May 2021, finishing second or third in seven straight graded stakes since then.