Meet the 2022 Breeders' Cup Turf contenders

October 27th, 2022

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

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Broome (right) finishing second in the 2021 Breeders' Cup Turf (G1) at Del Mar (Photo by


Pros: Finished a close second in this race last year, and trainer Aidan O’Brien has won the Breeders’ Cup Turf six times.

Cons: Was beaten to fourth place in the Sword Dancer (G1) during the summer at Saratoga, his lone U.S. start of the season.

Bye Bye Melvin (left) winning the 2020 Saranac (G3) at Saratoga (Photo by Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand)

Bye Bye Melvin

Pros: Arguably ran the best race of his career when finishing second in the Oct. 8 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1), his first try over 1 1/2 miles.

Cons: Hasn’t won a graded stakes since August 2020.

Channel Maker winning the Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland (Photo by Coady Photography)

Channel Maker

Pros: Four-time Grade 1 winner is accomplished over 1 1/2 miles and ran third in this race two years ago.

Cons: He’s gone winless in five previous Breeders’ Cup appearances.

Gold Phoenix winning the Del Mar H. (G2) at Del Mar (Photo by

Gold Phoenix (Photo by

Gold Phoenix

Pros: Unleashed a big stretch rally to win the Del Mar H. (G2) during the summer and just missed when third by a neck in the John Henry Turf Championship (G2) last time out.

Cons: He’s never run against Grade 1 competition.

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Highland Chief winning the Man o' War (G1) at Belmont Park (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Highland Chief

Pros: Won the Man o’ War (G1) during the spring and recently bounced back to peak form with a victory in the Sycamore (G3) over the same course and distance as the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Cons: He’s yet to post a triple-digit Brisnet Speed rating.

Master Piece winning the Eddie Read (G2) at Del Mar (Photo by Benoit Photo)

Master Piece

Pros: Upset the Eddie Read (G2) during the summer and was beaten only a head by Gold Phoenix in the Del Mar H. (G2).

Cons: He’s 0-for-2 racing 1 1/2 miles and 0-for-3 facing Grade 1 competition in the United States.

Mise En Scene (Photo by Horsephotos)

Mise En Scene

Pros: Her longest race to date produced one of her best efforts as she came home second by a nose in the Sept. 14 John Musker Fillies S. racing 1 1/4 miles.

Cons: European raider hasn’t cracked the trifecta in two previous top-level prizes, including when 10th in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1).

Mishriff winning the 2021 Saudi Cup (Photo by Coady Photography)


Pros: Globetrotting five-year-old counts the Juddmonte International (G1) and Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) among his signature victories on turf.

Cons: He’s 0-for-6 this year and has been struggling to recapture his best form.

Nations Pride winning the Jockey Club Derby (G3) at Aqueduct (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Nations Pride

Pros: European three-year-old spent the summer in the U.S., finishing second in the Belmont Derby (G1) before winning the Saratoga Derby (G1) and Jockey Club Derby (G1).

Cons: He’s been running against his own age group and must tackle older rivals in the Breeders’ Cup.

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Pros: Brazilian runner enters off a career-best victory in the Grande Premio Brasil (G1) racing 1 1/2 miles.

Cons: He’s yet to compete in the U.S. and figures to find the competition tougher at Keeneland.

Rebel's Romance winning the UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan (Photo by Coady Photography)

Rebel’s Romance

Pros: Two-time German Group 1 winner is unbeaten in four starts on turf, all racing 1 1/2 miles. Trainer Charlie Appleby boasts a phenomenal 6-for-11 record in the Breeders’ Cup.

Cons: The competition in Germany can be a bit easier than in other European racing nations.

Red Knight winning the 2019 Point of Entry S. (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

Red Knight

Pros: Returned from a layoff during the summer and went 2-for-2 racing 1 1/2 miles in the Colonial Cup and Kentucky Turf Cup (G2).

Cons: Exits an eighth-place finish in Keeneland’s Sycamore (G3) and has never contested a Grade 1 race.

Stone Age

Pros: The second Aidan O’Brien trainee has been facing elite competition in Europe, finishing fifth in the Irish Champion (G1) and fifth in the Champion (G1).

Cons: He’s 0-for-5 against Grade/Group 1 competition and 0-for-2 in the U.S., finishing third in the Belmont Derby (G1) and fifth in the Saratoga Derby (G1).

Virginia Joy (right) wins the Flower Bowl (G2) at Saratoga (Photo by Chelsea Durand/Coglianese Photos)

Virginia Joy

Pros: Long-winded mare counts victories in the Flower Bowl (G2), Glens Falls (G2), and The Very One (G3) on her 2022 resume.

Cons: She set an extremely slow pace when upsetting a troubled War Like Goddess in the Flower Bowl.

War Like Goddess wins the 2021 Glens Falls (G2) at Saratoga (Photo by Coglianese Photos)

War Like Goddess

Pros: Seven-time graded stakes winner recently trounced a quality field of male rivals in the 1 1/2-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1).

Cons: She finished third in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) and is facing her toughest test yet tackling European raiders in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.