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, August 29, 2007

Perfect Distance For A Perfect Sting

A restricted stakes, the Perfect Sting at nine furlongs on the inner turf course, kicks off the final week of racing at Saratoga.

The event drew but six entrants but is fairly competitive with three fillies looming strong contenders. From the rail, out: Criminologist (7-2), Mo Cuishle (3-1) and Amansara, the 2-1 early line choice.

Amansara is deserving. Following a preliminary allowance score, the four-year-old War Chant filly has been keeping stakes company, including a good third in the Grade 3 Frances Genter. Her effort in the restricted De La Rose on this course was first rate. It was her first start at four and after gaining the lead, tired in the final strides as if short of condition. Sure to benefit, George Weaver makes a switch to Ramon Dominguez, who’s been riding both Spa courses extremely well. Amansara is 1-for-1 at today’s trip.

Mo Cuishle comes out of the same race as the favorite and had the tougher trip. While Amansara saved ground, Mo Cuishle circled widest from well back in the pack and finished strongly, beaten a half length for the win, a half length behind the favorite. While Amansara figures to improve, this filly doesn’t figure to be as unlucky given the shorter field. Barclay Tagg has drilled this filly three times since that Aug. 1 route, including a very sharp half mile on Aug. 23. Eibar Coa retains the mount.

Criminologist was well backed in her course debut Aug. 9 and didn’t disappoint. She overcame a poor start and finished strongly to win a photo in a very game performance. Her pedigree says the added sixteenth is well within her scope and the suddenly hot Edgar Prado takes the re-ride for Shug McGaughey.

At the distance, Amansara rates the call narrowly to win, at 8-5 or greater, making an exacta box with Mo Cuishle and a trifecta part wheel using both fillies first and second, adding Criminologist to the mix for second and third.

Running Totals: (91) 38-20-11. Dollar Return: $225.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Sugar Looks Sweet In Classy Mirage

An overnight stakes, for fillies and mares three-year-olds and up, the Classy Mirage at 6-½ furlongs.

It drew a well matched field of sprinters at varying stages of development. The four we’ll look at are, from the rail, out: Cherokee Jewel (6-1), Fast Deal (6-1), Cuaba (2-1) and Sugar Swirl (5-2).

Cherokee Jewel seems to love it here. She ran lights out to win the Capote Belle last year, earning the fastest performance figure in the field. That’s the good news. The bad is that she never has run back to it. But making her third start off the long layup here, and shipping back to Saratoga, might prove the wakeup tonic. Meet leader Cornelio Velasquez gets the call.

Fast Deal’s best race also came over this track at three and she reaffirmed her preference for the Spa when she placed gamely to today’s favorite in her return in a slight breakthrough performance. That’s a good harbinger for another forward move here. Wayne Lukas makes a switch to Julien Leparoux here.

Cuaba was an impressive winner in her Spa debut Aug. 1, earning a career best figure. Ridden with confidence by Kent Desormeaux, who’s taking a return call here from Bill Mott, the Smoke Glacken filly has had two very sharp works since, indicating she’s held that good form. She fits the race shape well, a pace presser that can kick, and might be ready to jump to a higher level in the future. But right now she can handle this level and looms a deserving favorite.

Sugar Swirl, meanwhile, has been working like a tigress. She’s fresh for Bobby Frankel, always a good thing, and boasts a series of bullet workouts for a return to what might be her favorite surface. She earned a career best figure here at three and she matched that figure in her last race, the Alyssum at Belmont Park going today’s hybrid distance. Garrett Gomez takes the return call. Of the two most probable winners, she and Cuaba, Sugar Swirl likely will prove the value here.

Taking Sugar Swirl to win at 2-1 or greater, and exacta box with Cuaba, and a trifecta key first and second with the major contenders here.

Running Totals: (90) 38-19-11. Dollar Return: $225.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Dance, Boca Grande, Dance

Can’t begin to describe how competitive all the races have been at this meeting, especially the stakes. Take today’s Grade 1 Ballerina for fillies and mares at seven furlongs. Many questions to answer. We’ll try to sort this out by looking at five strong contenders, half the field:

From the rail, out: Maryfield (8-1), Pussycat Doll (7-2), Boca Grande (8-1), Baroness Thatcher (8-1) and Barilla, the 3-1 early line choice.

Barilla will be an exotics use but a toss in the straight pool. While she dominated the G2 Honorable Miss at six furlongs, she has no proven form at today’s distance and meets a much saltier group. She likely will be tested early and her wide draw may not give the positional edge it usually does at this trip.

Pussycat Doll, seemingly like all Bob Baffert-trained horses, hated the Polytrack. Hell, she didn’t handle Cushion Track either. Can she rebound on the dirt? Sure, but she might have been tailing off from a tough spring campaign. She’s a tough read in that respect and, at expected short odds, why bother?

Three-year-olds have a solid record in this race, primarily those coming out of the G1 Test. The first of these is Baroness Thatcher who showed much improved early speed in her Spa return and just missed place in a very sharp effort behind filly sprint divisional leading Dream Rush. As a testament to her class, she was also second in the G1 Las Virgennes. She’s held her form, if her recent half-mile work is any measure, and retains Garrett Gomez.

Boca Grande came from another county to finished second in the Test. Shug McGaughey always points for this meet and his three-year-olds tend to peak in racing’s second season. Horses tend to hold their form if they show a preference for this track and clearly she has. Boca Grande has worked twice since the Test, indicating her energy level is good. As a three-year-old, she’s dropping five pounds to a more reasonable 115. We normally disdain deep closers but the race shapes demands an off the pace runner here. And the price should be fair.

Taking Boca Grande at early line odds of 8-1 or greater, and keying her second and third with the other listed contenders in trifectas.

Running Totals: (89) 38-19-11. Dollar Return: $225.00 [win selections only]

Written by John Pricci

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