It has been an excellent year for horse racing in 2022, with no shortage of massive headlines giving the sport a good name. The Breeders’ Cup is the season-ending event on the flat, as the champions in North America are crowned.
That makes it a perfect opportunity to take stock of some of the free past performances by TwinSpires that we have seen throughout 2022 when the lights have shone the brightest. But, which horses have had the most impressive campaign this year?
It would be near impossible to talk about the most impressive horse this year without talking about the horse of the year himself – Flightline. The John Sadler-trained runner went into the Breeders’ Cup with the eyes of the world on him, and he was sent off as an odds-on shot for the Classic.
The four-year-old wasn’t about to disappoint on his biggest career start, as he went on to win the Classic by a stunning eight and a half lengths from Olympiad in just over two minutes. That performance scored a slightly lower rating of 127 when compared to the 128 recorded when winning the G1 Pacific Classic, but it ensured that he was able to retire with a perfect 6-0 record, and his place as one of the greatest ever was assured.
There are a lot of similarities between Flightline and Baaeed, but the key difference was that the top-rated horse in the world before the Breeders’ Cup wasn’t able to bow out with a 100% record. On his eleventh and final start, he faded in the G1 Champion Stakes, and eventually finished fourth; a length and three-quarters behind Bay Bridge.
However, his best performance of the season was scintillating at York before that run, as he scored a year-high RPR of any horse in training. That run came in the G1 Juddmonte International, as he was stepped up to beyond a mile for the first time to win by six and a half lengths from Mishriff, scoring an RPR of 138. Baaeed now goes to stud, and has been set at a price of £80,000.
It hasn’t been just about the boys this season, as the fillies and mares have produced some excellent performances throughout the season. However, it was Malathaat that was standing tall as the queen after the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, as she claimed victory in one of the most exciting finishes of the season. The four-year-old finally showed all her class at the top level to win the Distaff, which was her third straight graded win.
However, she did it by the skin of her nose, literally. Malathaat finished a nose clear of Blue Stripe, and a further nose clear of the fast finishing Clairiere, who gave all her rivals a head start at the beginning of the Distaff. But, you would be hard-pressed to disagree that Malathaat has been the star female in the U.S. this season.
One of the best performances of the season still comes from the Kentucky Derby, as Rich Strike outrun his 81/1 odds to land Triple Crown glory for Eric Reed and Sonny Leon. The three-year-old hadn’t looked like a main danger before the Derby, having finished fourth in the John Battaglia Memorial and third in the G3 Jeff Ruby.
However, his strong finish to the Derby shocked Epicenter, as he finished with a rating of 106. There could be more to come from Rich Strike next season, as connections have already announced that he will remain in training. His run in the Classic was extremely impressive, as he finished fourth, and scored a career-best figure of 112.