Pricci's Free Daily Feature Race Analysis

Five days per week and every racing day during the Saratoga meet, John Pricci will provide horse racing selections of that day's feature race. When the racing schedule dictates otherwise, there will be analysis from other major thoroughbred Tracks. Check back here 5 days a week for free horse racing selections.

In addition to his race analysis, John will provide commentary in a weekly "On the Line" column and daily blogs under the "Pricci's Morning Line" banner.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Get Me to the Finish Line on Time

Today’s Belmont feature is the Screenland Stakes for New York bred males going six and a half furlongs. There is a good amount of New York bred sprinting talent in this short field but it will take a Herculean effort to be favored Groomedforvictory (6-5).

The Barclay Tagg trainee, by definition the fastest horse in the race on performance figures by a significant margin, exploded in his Gulfstream finale with the removal of blinkers going a mile. His turn-back figures are first rate, he owns tactical ability and has been working bullets since returning to his Belmont Park base. Regular rider Javier Castellano is in the boot.

Fort Drum (7-2) is removing blinkers following a win, which should not be allowed, but perhaps it’s owning to his continued problems leaving the starting gate might have something to do with that. He won in his first start for Gary Contessa and Eibar Coa rides him back. He’s turning back from 7 furlongs to 6-½, is stakes tough and owns a win at Belmont.

Be Bullish (5-1) looks like an open class sprinter on his best day. He’s won on and from well off the early pace, has a win over the surface and a most worthy 3-for-7 slate and goes postward with regular rider C.C. Lopez, the veteran riding at a profitable 19 percent rate in 2008. He might fall between the wagering cracks here.

Taking Groomedforvictory to win, no price restrictions, keying him first and second in exactas with his main rivals here, extra tickets with Groomedforvictory first.

Running Totals: (202) 65-43-23. Total Dollar Return: $405.60 [win wagers only]

Written by John Pricci

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

“Matt” Just Might Run Like a Two-Year-Old for Levine


Today’s feature sprint is very interesting, which is to say difficult. Two classy horses are returning off extended layups, several are aged old pros, while others are returning first time for the outfits that traditionally dominate this kind of event.

The most likely suspects among them and the Rick Dutrow coupling of Strummer and Unrequited (5-2), Starforaday (4-1), and the old pro My Cousin Matt (9-2).

The 9-year-old former stakes winner, “Matt” makes his debut for the Levine barn, a profitable 28 percent effective with new acquisitions. Nicely freshened by the new connections, he likely was reserved for this meet, having compiled a 3-for-7 record over big sandy. Always versatile, he can stalk from close range or kick from off the pace. His style, and the presence of Eibar Coa, fits today’s dynamic nicely.

Strummer returns to Belmont (2-for-9) after winning his first start for Dutrow, a nifty 30 percent with repeaters. That 5-½ furlong event can only sharpen his speed for this, meaning he could repeat but certainly help set the table for his late-running mate. Unrequited is also looking to repeat. However his last start was 354 days ago. But he has won fresh in his career and Dutrow is 24 percent effective with returnees off layups of 90 days or more.

Starforaday, going first time for Gary Contessa, a profitable 25 percent with new acquisitions. The 5-year-old is returning from a 197-day layoff after receiving a “pulled up lame” comment in his final start before today. That effort came in a Keeneland allowances after beating optional claimers at Saratoga in a lifetime best performance. Note that he returns under the allowance conditions here and is not up for sale, even though the “lame” comment can be a way to big profits when winning trainers get their horses right. Don’t believe Contessa capable of embarrassing himself if he didn’t think his horse was fit and ready.

Taking My Cousin Matt to win at 7-2 or more and keying him in exactas first and second with his main rivals here. Trifecta players add El Bandito Rojo (4-1) to your mix.

Running Totals: (201) 65-43-22. Total Dollar Return: $405.60 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ancients Say Short Price Better Than Long Face, Grasshopper

Belmont Park opens with a renewal of the storied Grade 3 Westchester Handicap for three-year-olds and up at a flat one-turn mile around “Big Sandy.”

It has attracted a significant shipper and early line favorite Grasshopper (3-5) from the Neil Howard shed. The interesting horses are Divine Park (4-1) and Sightseeing (6-1).

When last seen, Grasshopper was being outrun in deep stretch by the talented Circular Quay after giving away his momentum at headstretch in the G2 New Orleans Handicap. As the soft-paced but pressed-throughout frontrunner, he could not hold off the winner in his second start of the year. He’s better with a target. Between today’s shorter distance and class relief, he’s extremely formidable in his third start of the season.

Divine Park came to hand in his last start, a comprehensive victory in fast time now returns to a dynamic by which he won his only start going a one-turn mile, the G3 Withers last season. Nicely positioned outside in a big field and with tactical speed, he will be a tough customer with Kiaran McLaughlin and Alan Garcia calling the shots. Whether he’s good enough for the like of Grasshopper is to be determined.

Sightseeing is going turf to dirt in his second start of the year for Shug McGaughey. His lone career victories have come on this surface in the one turn G2 Peter Pan last year that earned him a ticket to the Jim Dandy and Travers. A good third in the Travers, he was somewhat disappointing in Street Sense’s Travers. Shug is 22 percent efficient with the turf to dirt move and the very hot Edgar Prado takes the re-ride after his recent turf constitutional. Whether he has enough speed to overtake the favorite is another matter.

Taking Grasshopper to win with no price restrictions, optimizing the play with an exacta part wheel of Grasshopper and Divine Park first, with those two and Grasshopper for second, extra tickets with Grasshopper.

Running Totals: (200) 65-43-22. Total Dollar Return: $405.60 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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